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THE HERB OF THE FIELD 



" And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his 
kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind : 
and Qod saw that it was good." — Genesis i. 12. 

" By His care the tender grass 
Springs where flock or herd shall pass ; 
He the riper blade assigned 
For a treasure to mankind. 
So might earth her store impart ; 
The new wine cheer man's sinking heart ; 
So with oil his brow might brighten. 
Bread his sinking spirit lighten." — 

Psalm civ. Osford PsaZter. 



THE 



HEEB OF THE FIELD 



REPRINTED FROM "CHAPTERS ON FLOWERS" 

IN THE 

MAGAZINE FOR THE YOUNG 



By CHAELOTTE M. YONGE 

AUTHOR OF ' 

THE HEIR OF REDCLYFFE, ETC. 



REVISED AND CORRECTED 



HonOon 

MACMILLAN AND CO. 

AND NEW YORK 



1887 



All lights restrxtd 



Printed ^R. Sz.'R. Clark, Edinburgh. 



PREFACE 

These Chapters must not be considered so much 
as a work on Botany, as an attempt to bring the 
wonders of the vegetable world under the notice of 
children, and lead them to take interest in the 
plants around them. 

Of their irregularity the author is well aware. 
They were begun with a view to the flowers of each 
month; but the necessity of some plan caused each 
chapter to contain a sketch of a natural order, in 
which, however, she begs she may not be supposed to 
include the "last bells of summer," or the "Christmas 
evergreens." 

After the twelfth chapter the Linnsean classes 
were gone through, in order to pick up such plants 
as had been omitted, and in arranging them for 
separate publication the same order has been pre- 
served, as the earlier chapters are the easiest, and 
after going through them a child will be better able 
to understand the latter ones. 



VI • PREFACE 

Long words have been avoided as much as pos- 
sible, and something of system and science has been 
sacrificed to the desire to give no formidable appear- 
ance to the page. It is hoped that there is nothing 
contrary to scientific botany, and that such as pursue 
the study further will find their way smoothed and 
that they have nothing to unlearn. 

We believe that the want has been long felt, of a 
book on plants sufficiently free from botanical terms, 
and with amusement enough to give young children 
a pleasure in the knowledge of flowers; and it is 
hoped that " The Herb of the Field '' may be found 
in some way to supply this need. A few of the 
chapters read to a child, with the examination of the 
flowers therein described, would probably excite its 
interest in the rest 

It was with a view to village children that the 
chapters were at first written, in the hope of rousing 
them from the indifference to wild flowers that causes 
almost ever3rthing to be classed as a lily or a poppy. 
To teach them to value, and observe, and perceive 
the widespread beauties in the woods and fields 
around them, is opening a great source of happiness, 
and leading them to a pursuit of a refining and 
softening nature, one of the best of the subordinate 
means of cultivation. 

And it is very easily done. To ask if they know 



PREFACE Vll 

the name of a plant, to notice the pride of their 
Sunday nosegays, to reveal some of those marvels 
they have never perceived in the interior of a blossom, 
is a sure way to produce delighted smiles and ani- 
mated looks ; and simple lessons on natural objects 
are certain to be enjoyed and remembered. Or 
when connected with the subject where all teaching 
begins and ends, there is surely no means better 
suited for showing to young minds at once the mercy 
and majesty of the Creator than the display of the 
exquisite loveliness and perfect contrivance of those 
minute plants, so common that they have hitherto 
passed them by without heed. 

It is for such readers as these, who will never 
be likely to have time or means for the study of 
complete botanical works, but who nevertheless 
take delight in knowing intimately the dwellers 
in meadow, wood, or wayside, that the classification 
of English plants has been given at the end, hoping 
that they may be thus assisted in learning the 
names of the fair forms that refresh their eyes. 

1th May 1863. 

The lapse of thirty-four years has not changed 
the flower world, but it has rendered the old Linnaean 
system so obsolete that a book guided by it is no 
longer a foundation for future botanical studies. I 



Vlll PREFACE 

have therefore done my best to change the arrange- 
ment to that of the Natural System, which certainly 
does give a better general training in the wonders of 
the plant creation than the old one, though it is less 
convenient as a dictionary for ascertaining names. 

15th March 1887. 



CONTENTS 



Chap. Paob 

I. February Flowers— The Snowdrop and Crocus 1 

II. March Flowers— The Daffodil and Hazel . 7 

III. April Flowers — Anemone and Ranunculus 14 

IV. May Flowers— Primroses and Violets . 19 

V. June Flowers — The Apple and the Rose . 28 

VI. July Flowers — Butterfly Flowers ... 37 
VII. August Flowers — The Last Bells of Summer . 45 

VIII. September Flowers — Compound Flowers 49 

IX. October Plants — ^Unseen Blossoms ... 60 

X. November Plants — Ferns .... 68 
XI. December Flowers— Christmas Evergreens . 77 

XII. January Plants — Needle Trees ... 87 

XIII. Rule of Five and Four, and Rule of Three 95 

XIV. Sub-Class I. — Stamens on the Receptacle 97 
XV. The Cruciform Tribe 104 

XVI. Tea and Cotton Ill 

xvn. The Orange Tribe 118 

XVIII. The Crane's-bill Tribe 124 

XIX. Balsams and Nasturtiums .128 

XX. Trees 130 

XXI. Sub-Class II. — Stamens on the Calyx — Many 

Petals 134 

XXII. MouirrAiN Flowers and Pomegranates . 138 



CONTENTS 



Chap. 
XXIII. 
XXIV. 
XXV. 
XXVL 
XXVII. 
XXVIII. 
XXIX. 
XXX. 
XXXI. 
XXXII. 
XXXIII. 
XXXIV. 
XXXV. 
XXXVI. 
XXXVII. 
XXXVIII. 
XXXIX. 
XL. 
XLI. 
XLII. 
XLIIL 
XLIV. 
XLV. 

Common 
Index 



Willow Herb and Fuchsia . 
The Passion Flower 
Pricks and Umbrellas . 
Honeysuckle and Elder 
Lipped Flowers .... 
Two Stamened Flowers 

Crossworts 

Olives 

Pentagon Stars .... 

The Spurge Tribe .... 

Everlasting Flowers . 

Figs and Hops .... 

The Elm Tree .... 

The Catkin Race . 

Class II.— Endogens— Orchids 

Flags 

. Yams 

Reeds 

Lilies of the Field 

Asparagus 

Grasses 

Class III.— Flowerless Plain Funguses 
Sea-weeds 

English Plants 





Page 
143 
147 
152 
158 
162 
167 
172 
180 
187 
201 
207 
212 
215 
222 
227 
235 
239 
243 
246 
252 
255 
263 
271 

279 
303 



CHAPTER I 

FBBBUARY FLOWERS 

The Snowdrop amd Crocus 

Eybby one loves flowers, and well we may, for there is 
nothing on earth so beautiful or so pure as they. The . 
choice rare flowers of hotter climates are some of the 
most delidouB of the luxuries enjoyed by the rich ; the 
trim, bright garden bed is the delight of many who find 
little to cheer them elsewhere ; even in the close and 
smoky town a few plants are cherished like darlings, 
and the glorious multitudes that are spread in the woods 
and valleys form no small part of the pleasures of the 
country child. 

We may well be thankful that our Maker has given 
us such plenty of these fairest among His works, shower- 
ing them upon us in such profusion as to show how great 
must be the power and the kindness of Him who made 
every plant in the field before it grew, arraying them 
more richly than Solomon in all his glory. He is a kind 
father who provides for the pleasure and amusement of 
His children, as well as for their safety and comfort, and 
so those who delight in sweet flowers should return 
& B 



i^i 



2 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

especial thanks for the loving-kindness which has pro- 
vided such joys for them. 

Perhaps it may be some assistance in rendering our 
thanks for these, His beautiful works, to be led to ex- 
amine a little into their structure, and the wonderful 
perfection of their parts, of which many who admire their 
brilliant colouring are very ignorant. 

We will begin with a February flower, which all are 
glad to see, when it first pushes up its green case above 
the dark mould, and, gradually opening, shows its pure 
white drop of a bud, hanging on a tiny stem, and at last 
opening into the delicate bell, of 'Wemal green, and 
virgin white." 

Well then, take a snowdrop, and if you can find it in 
your heart to do it, and if it can be spared out of the 
garden, pull it up by the root ; for I want to tell you 
about it from beginning to end, from the top of the 
little green banner that waves above the white bell, down 
to the last fibre of the strings of the root. 

It will be the best way to begin with the root. See, 
the little fibres are strings which suck up nourishment 
out of the ground. Above comes a round, hard thing, 
like a top upside down. This is called a bulb, and if 
you cut it in two you will find it to consist of a 
number of flakes, or coats, fitting closely one over the 
other. An onion has a bulb of the same kind, as you 
must have often seen. If you had cut open this bulb 
in the end of last autumn, and looked at it with a 
strong magnifying glass, you might have seen the whole 
tiny snowdrop-plant, leaves, stem, blossom, and all, lying 
tightly curled up safe within all the numerous outer 
coats, waiting for the first breath of spring to push its 
way out into the air. 



I FEBRUARY FLOWERS 3 

The tall, sword -shaped leaves which all spread out 
from the bulb may be said to be the means by which 
it breathes, for they conduct the air into the numer- 
ous tiny air-cells of which the plant is full ; and a plant, 
as you well know, can no more live without air, drink, 
and its own kind of food than you can. In the midst 
rises the one long green stem, with its moist, juicy 
inside, through which the air and sap are conducted to 
nourish the blossom. At the end is a sort of sheath, 
in which the blossom was safely packed up when first it 
budded forth, until, as spring came on, the bud swelled 
and swelled, till the sheath could hold it no longer, but 
opened at the side, and let the round bud drop out and 
hang down by its little slender footstalk. 

Now comes what we call the flower, and here you 
must learn several hard names, if you wish to be able to 
understand what I am going to tell you about plants. 
The prettily coloured or white leaves of a flower are 
properly named petals. Of these in the snowdrop there 
are three. There are three larger ones outside, curved 
and perfectly white. These are sepals ; and there are 
three lesser ones within, with a notch in the middle, and 
marked with green, which are the petals. That is, if 
you have taken a single snowdrop ; if you have a double 
one I can go no further, for there the petals, which are of 
no real use except to protect the important parts of the 
flower within, are so multiplied that they have used up 
all the strength of the plants and even consumed these 
really useful parts, so that, as everybody knows, a double 
flower never produces good fruit, but only rejoices in its 
own finery for a time. Not unlike some people that I 
could tell you o£ 

But we will suppose you have a good, quiet, modest 



4 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

snowdrop, with its green and white robes in good order, 
and put to their proper use, of guarding and sheltering 
what is within them. Inside of the three green-marked 
petals you will find seven little threads, all perched upon 
a green cushion, called sometimes the germ and sometimes 
the receptacle. The middle one of these is straight, with 
a forked top, and is called the pistil, the six others are 
the stamens, and each of them is surmounted by a sort 
of long narrow case, called an anther, filled with a kind 
of dust, named pollen. 

This pollen, as the anthers open, is shed upon the 
pistil, and, passing along it to the receptacle, there turns 
to seed ; the petals die away, and the receptacle swells, 
day by dfi^y, as you will see if you watch carefully, till at 
last it grows to a capsule, like a bag, or rather a purse. 
You may have seen purses divided into compartments for 
gold, silver, and copper, and the capsule of the snowdrop 
is divided something in the same manner into three cells, 
each of them full of round seeds, and every one of these 
seeds has a minute plant wrapped up inside of it 

Happy the children who live where snowdrops grow 
wild, and very proud of them they are, for it is not often 
that they are so found ; indeed, some people think that 
it is not an English flower at all, but has only made its 
escape, as we may say, from gardens. I know of a dell, 
in the garden of what was once a convent, which is full 
of these beautiful flowers, in such numbers that one 
might gather for half the day without making it look 
much less white. 

But we must take our leave of the " Fair maids of 
February," and go on to their first cousin, the crocus, the 
long thready leaves of which, with the white stripe in the 
middle, shoot out in readiness for spring, before even the 



I FEBRUARY FLOWERS 5 

Christmas holidays are over. In an early spring, crocuses 
are in blossom before the end of February, their dry 
withered sheath hanging down over the bulb, and their 
rich golden-yellow flowers seeming almost to reflect the 
brightness of the sunbeams, in their depth of rich glowing 
yellow. And how the bees delight in rolling deep within 
them ! seeking for the honey which is stored in the 
cup, or nectary,^ as it is called, at the bottom of the 
petals. All crocuses have three petals and three sepals — 
but these are as bright as the petals — ^bulbs, long narrow 
leaves, and a sheath, but they differ from the snowdrop 
in having no stem, and only three stamens instead of six. 
The pistil, too, has a pretty branching crown, called a 
stigma, and the petals are all of the same size and shape. 

The brilliant yellow spring crocus grows wild in Syria, 
and has only been cultivated in England for about two 
hundred years. It shows its love for the bright sun of 
its native land by only opening on sunshiny days, and 
closing up fast in frost and fog, though, like a sweet 
gentle temper, it is always ready to open again on the 
first encouragement. 

Its brothers, in purple and in striped coats, are not quite 
so pretty to look at from a distance, though, when close 
to them, they are very elegant flowers ; the long, forked, 
orange-coloured stigma of the purple one shows off to 
great advantage with the colour of the petals. Some 
crocuses have yellow sepals and petals striped with brown. 
One of the prettiest of all has white petals, and sepals 
striped with purple. 

The crocus root dies away every year after forming a 
new bulb, or sometimes two, close by its side, and thus 
the plant gradually changes its place till it comes quite 
^ So called from nectar, a sweet drink. 



6 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. I 

out of the border where it was first planted. The purple 
crocus is English, and grows in great quantities in the 
fields about Nottingham. It used to be a great joyous 
holiday to go out and pick these flowers, till the fields 
were built upon. 

There are other sorts which blossom in the autumn, of 
which I will just mention the saffron crocus, which is 
grown in great quantities in Essex and Suffolk. The 
stigma, which is very large, is picked off by women and 
children, and laid out on linen cloths to dry in a heated 
room, after which it is put in paper bags and sold, to be 
used in many ways, one of which those who like saffron 
buns will soon recollect, as well as those who have to 
doctor their pet canary-birds in the moulting season. 

Plants with bulbs have, then, as you should recollect, 
three petals and three sepals ; either six or three stamens, 
with anthers ; one pistil, consisting of a germ, style,^ and 
stigma ; usually straight soft stems, without branches ; 
leaves either growing from the root or on the stem ; and 
sheaths in which the young blossom is enclosed. 

^ The style is the long part of the pistil, and is named from 
the shape of the iron styles, or pens, which were used in old times 
for writing on tablets of wax. 



CHAPTER II 

MARCH FLOWERS 

The Daffodil omd Haad 

Who can pass by tlie Ist of March without a word or two 
of the Lent Lily, the beautifal yellow dafifodil? The 
Latin name of the daffodil is Narcissus, and there was an 
old heathen story that there was once a youth who was 
always admiring his own beauty, looking at his face re- 
flected in clear pools and streams (for it was before look- 
ing-glasses were invented), till he was punished for his 
vanity by being changed into the flower which stiU hangs 
down its head, as he hung his over the water. 

Certainly he has not left off wearing a very gay dress, 
though I never yet saw him near the water, but always 
in copses and woody banks. How pleasant it is to see 
those multitudes of yellow flowers scattered all over the 
ground. And how delightful to gather them, blossom 
after blossom, and still it does not seem as if the numbers 
were in the least thinned. And then, when the hands 
are as full as ever they can hold, to tie the stalks up in a 
hard solid bundle, cut them all to one length, and make 
a present of the noble golden nosegay, or put it into a 
cup of water, or perhaps send it to market, where it may 



8 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

be bought by some town person, who does not often see 
a fresh flower. 

I remember that my nurse did not always like my 
daffodil nosegays, because there were no leaves, and she 
said the flowers were too gaudy, but I did not think so ; 
the six outer petals and sepals are so soft and delicate, 
and the deep yellow bell inside is so bright and beautiful, 
and has such a curious kind of sparkle upon it, and then 
its edge is so beautifully quilled and scalloped. I used to 
turn the flower upside down, and fancy it a fairy's dress : 
the deep yellow bell her golden petticoat ; and the petals 
above, her pale gauze robe, deeply cut ; while her boddice 
was the green receptacle on which they grow. 

The yellow petticoat is really the nectary or honey- 
cup ; garden narcissuses and jonquils, which blossom 
later, have the nectary likewise, only smaller, and there 
is also another sort which grows wild in some places, 
called sometimes the poetic narcissus, and sometimes 
butter-and-eggs. The petals of this are quite white, and 
the nectary yellow, trinmied with red, and a very pretty 
flower it is, though I can never like it quite as well as 
the old daffodil Perhaps those do, however, who have 
known it all their lives as an old friend, and have put it 
into their first May garland. 

Narcissuses and jonquils are often kept in glasses of 
water or flower-pots all the winter in the house ; their 
bulbs put down long fibres into the water and suck up 
juice enough for the support of the plant, so that it puts 
up its almond-shaped bud, spreads its long green leaves, 
and unfolds its yellow flower, so as to be the pleasure of 
all in the house. I have heard of a little sick boy in 
London, who lay on his bed close to the black smoky win- 
dow, with no amusement but watching day after day how his 



II MARCH FLOWERS 9 

three jonquils grew and budded ; and when at last he died, 
he left them as his choicest treasure to a friend who had 
been kind to him. 

Excepting the large nectary, the narcissus differs but 
little in structure from the snowdrop, as you will soon 
find by examining it. The brown sheath hangs withered 
behind the flower, the pistil and the six stamens rise like 
a fluted pillar in the middle of the nectary, the germ is 
round, and when ripe, becomes a capsule filled with seeds, 
and the leaves are long and narrow, growing directly from 
the root. 

So we will leave the daffodil and its relations, and look 
a little &rther in the copse. What are these long, soft- 
looking tassels, hanging out of these dry sticks ? 

Oh, those are not flowers, those are pussy cats, says 
one child ; they are cats' tails, says another ; and I for my 
own part should call them catkins, though that is not 
a much wiser name, since catkin can mean nothing but 
little cat. 

And pray what is the bush they grow upon 1 Ten to 
one that few of you can tell me, unless, perhaps, you 
happen to remember that somewhere hereabouts, last 
autumn, you picked a capital bunch of nuts, and have a 
guess that it must have been off this very bush. And so 
it was ; and this is a hazel nut bush ! But where do the 
nuts come from, and what have the pussy's tails to do 
there, since 1 never yet heard that cats were apt to hang 
up their tails to dry on hazel bushes ? Nor do I think 
that these things are very much like them. 

Ah ! now you look very wise, you have a guess. Why 
should not pussy's tails turn to nuts, as well as apple 
blossom to apples ? Let us see, then, what the catkin is 
really made of. 



10 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

It is formed of a great number of little scales one over 
the other, some pale green, some hxiS, and some a little 
shaded with red, and within each of these scales there are 
some yellow things, eight of them, which yellow things 
are fast covering your fingers with dust. That dust is 
pollen, and those eight are anthers then, stamens only 
that they have no legs, properly called filaments, and the 
scales are petals, so that each catkin is in reality a string 
of tiny flowers. 

After all they are but half flowers, for if you remem- 
ber it is the pistil, and not the stamens, of the snowdrop 
that turns to seed, and these anthers have no seed in 
them. Perhaps the pistil is in another part of the catkin. 
No, peep into scale after scale, and still there are nothing 
but anthers, so that we must look a little further to find 
the young nut 

See here, a little lower on the branch, here is a hard 
brown bud, much like those that turn to leaves, except 
that it has a cluster of pretty crimson threads at the top, 
a sort of red feather in its cap. Here lives the nut, here 
are the pistil -bearing flowers, for the hazel keeps its 
stamens and pistils in different blossoms. 

Let the neatest hand and most delicate fingers pull off 
one by one the brown scales in which the bud has been 
guarded all the winter. Inside there is first a quantity 
of soft hair to keep it warm, and in the midst are several 
very small green cups, each containing a tiny germ, on 
which grow two crimson threads, the stigma of the pistiL 
If you can manage to look it at through a magnifying 
glass you will understand it much better, and see that the 
little germ is very nearly of the shape of a nut. 

The pussy's tails will shake off their dust, some of 
it will be carried by the bees to serve as flour for their 



II 



MARCH FLOWERS 11 



bee-bread, some will float away on the wind, and some 
will be caught by the crimson crest of this nest of 
little nuts. Then the catkins will wither and fall off, 
but the little nuts will swell and enlarge as the year 
advances. 

The crimson stigmas will turn purple and shrivel up, 
the scales will open, the cups will grow longer and more 
leafy, and the germs harden into outer sheUs, in which 
there grow at length the white sweet kernels. Each of 
these kernels is, as you remember, apt to break into two 
equal parts when the nut is cracked, and there is apt to 
be a stringy, scaly piece between them. This string is the 
young stem of the infant hazel, and if the nut was in the 
ground and allowed to grow, the two halves of the kernel 
would produce two cotyledons or seed-leaves, which would 
be pushed above ground by the young stem. 

I daresay you think that those two white, pleasant 
tasting half-kernels may be put to a different use before 
ever they have time to make seed-leaves, or cotyledons. 
What fan it is to pull them down from the tree, bunch 
after bunch, one, two, three, ay, sometimes half a dozen 
in a cluster ! crack, crunch ! Oh, I hope you have good 
teeth! 

Something else has good teeth if you have not ; the 
pretty little squirrel, with his bushy tail, likes to lay up 
a store of nuts for his winter hoard, sitting up holding 
them in his paws, and nibbling away the shell. So does 
the wood-mouse, who makes his nest in the moss under 
the tree. But how can the nuthatch contrive, that pretty 
bird with the gray back and black streak over the eye; 
he is as fond of nuts as the mouse or the squirrel, but he 
has no paws to hold them, so how can he get at the kernel, 
through that hard shell ? 



12 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

The nuthatch chooses a chink between two stones, or 
in the bark of a tree, where he can firmly fix the nut, 
like a piece of wood in a carpenter's vice, and there he 
hammers it, tap, tap, with his strong beak, till he has 
broken out a hole large enough for him to extract the 
kernel. 

Between the children, the squirrels, mice, and nut- 
hatches, to say nothing of the little round white maggots, 
which all like nuts, it would seem as if there might be 
few left to grow into fresh hazel bushes, and perhaps it is 
for this reason that the bush throws up shoots &om the 
root, which grow up into stems in time. 

And how many things the branches are useful for ! 
What would green peas and scarlet runners do without 
them ? Others, again, are split in half and made into 
hoops, to be put round casks. A very pretty winter sight 
is the hoop shaving : the copsewood all cut down ; the 
great piles of white chips ; the tall heap of hoops, placed 
regularly one over the other, so as to look like a barrel 
already ; the long white bundles of rods for crates set up 
on ends, leaning against each other ; and the little hut 
made of sticks and covered with chips^ with sometimes a 
fire, with the smoke curling up between the great old trees 
that still are left standing though all the brushwood is 
down. 

Then, too, the hazel sticks make withes for binding, 
and are woven into hurdles for sheep ; yes, and the first 
Christian flock in England were enclosed within hazel 
walls. It was of wattled hurdles that the first Church 
was made that was raised at Glastonbury, and it was long 
before our forefathers were able to form these holy build- 
ings of more solid materials. 

There are no hazel leaves to look at now, they are 



II 



MARCH FLOWEBS 13 



all folded up in the little liard biown buds, and will not 
come out till May. Then, perhaps, you may remember 
to observe the serrated or saw-like edge of the leaf, and 
the numbers of little branches at the back, like a net- 
work, to serve as channels for the sap. 



CHAPTER III 

APRIL FLOWERS 

Anemone cmd Rantmculiis 

An April nosegay ! It is mucli easier to gather one than 
a March nosegay ; indeed there are so many flowers now, 
that I can only choose out a few to talk about, as it 
would take too long to dwell upon them alL 

The Easter flower is commonly called the Pasque 
flower, from the word PaschaL It is very pretty, deep 
purple with yellow stamens ; but it is not very common. 
I will go on to another flower of the same genus, the 
wood-anemone. 

Anemone means windflower, and this I believe is the 
English name often given to this very pretty ornament 
of our woods. It is rather difficult to get at the root of 
the wood-anemone, as it is deep in the earth, and creep- 
ing, putting down clusters of fibres into the ground, and 
shooting up stems at short distances apart. Each stem 
has a sort of joint about half-way up, whence spring three 
leaf stalks ; each stalk bears three leaves, and these leaves 
are again notched deeply into three divisions, and alto- 
gether they spread out most gracefully below the slender 
stem which bears the modest blossom, bending down its 



CHAP. Ill APRIL FLOWERS 15 

head and folding its wings in wet weather or at night, 
and opening them again to rejoice in the delicious spring 
sunshine. 

The five petals are usually of a delicate pearly white ; 
but sometimes, especially later in the season, they have a 
tinge of lilac, and I have now and then seen one quite 
purple. Within are quite a crowd of stamens with yellow 
anthers, too many to count, and in the middle what 
you might suppose to be a single great pistil, without 
style or stigma, but in reality it is a multitude of very 
small ones joined together, which will all become separate 
seeds in the course of the summer. How delicate the 
flower is ! it is in vain to try to gather it for a nosegay, 
for it is sure to droop its pretty head and fade before it 
can be brought home, and we must be content to leave 
the flowers in their bed of fresh green moss, and brown, 
crackling, last yearns leaves at the foot of the tree, stud- 
ding over the coppice like so many white stars. 

I think that the wood-anemone may put us in mind 
of some quiet, shy, modest girl, who makes all sunny and 
happy round her in her own safe, shaded home ; while, 
perhaps, she has gayer and brighter sisters or cousins who 
can do their work as well in less sheltered scenes, and wear 
their company-robes as modestly as she her humble dress. 

The anemone has such sisters — ^pretty Miss Hepatica 
Anemone, in her blue or pink robe, with her large, hand- 
some, three-cleft^ dark-green parasol, is one of them ; but 
she is not less quiet and retiring than her woodland sister, 
for she, too, hangs down her head, and hides under her 
leaves at night ; and, somehow, she always prospers more 
in a cottage garden than in grander places, perhaps re- 
membering that her native home is on the Swiss moun- 
tains, where she p6eps up almost through the snow. 



16 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

There is one of the fkmily, however, who is quite at 
home in any garden, however grand — Mr. Poppy Ane- 
mone, her large handsome brother, with his multitude of 
black stamens, and great black lump of pistils, the styles 
of which grow so thick together that they seem like hair. 
He has an endless variety of beautiful dresses : sometimes 
he appears in rich scarlet, sometimes in crimson or purple, 
and sometimes in quite a ladylike robe of white, trimmed 
with purple or pink. He is a great friend of the gardeners, 
who think they can get him to do anything to please 
them, and persuade him to alter his shape, wear all 
manner of flounces and furbelows, and disguise himself in 
such strange fashion that his best friends would hardly 
know him again. Sometimes, indeed, he wastes all his 
substance in thus doubling the folds of his robes, but if 
not, after about a fortnight, he takes off all his beautiful 
red or purple garments, and rolls himself up in his plain 
working dress, very like a gray duffle cloak. By and by 
the gray coat seems to come unravelled, just as if you 
were to undo a knitted glove, and it will prove to be 
formed of a multitude of little yellow seeds, each with its 
own white wing of cotton, with which, if left to itself, it 
would fly away to seek a home ; but the gardeners are 
on the watch for them and catch them, that they may 
take good care of their feeding and education, so that they 
may grow up as fine, or finer, gentlemen than their 
father. 

1 have read a description, in a book of travels in the 
Holy Land, of the country near the sea of Galilee. The 
ground, early in the spring, is covered with a thick, close 
carpet of crimson anemones, above which are a number of 
half-withered stems of grass. Sometimes, through a nar- 
row opening in the mountains, there comes a sudden gust 



Ill 



APRIL FLOWERS 17 



of wind, waving aside for a moment all the grass in the 
line of its course, and showing the crimson flowers beneath, 
80 that it seems like a mysterious river of blood, suddenly 
appearing for one instant, and as quickly passing away. 
There is, too, the handsome branched Japan anemone, 
white or purple, blossoming through the autumn. 

Several other flowers are in blossom now, belonging 
to the same many-stamened race as the anemone. First 
there is the ranunculus tribe, and you will wonder to 
hear that these are no other than your old golden friends, 
the buttercups, kingcups, or crowfoot, whichever you may 
usually call them. There they are with their five glossy 
yellow petals, their numerous stamens, and their lump of 
little, round, horn-shaped pistils. They have also five 
small green leaves growing under the petals, and this 
part of the flower is called the calyx or cup. There are 
many different kinds — the creeping crowfoot, which is 
such an enemy to the fcirmer, in grass fields, for though 
it used to be a saying that buttercups made the butter 
yellow, this is quite a mistake, for you may see that 
cattle always leave the stems when they have eaten the 
grass all round ; and the truth is, that all plants of the 
ranunculus tribe, that is, with many stamens growing out 
of the receptacle, are poisonous. Then there is the corn- 
crowfoot, with its very curious-toothed and jagged seed- 
vessels ; and the white water-crowfoot, which has large, 
three-cleft leaves to float on the top of the water, and 
serve to bear it up there, and also thick clusters of fibrous, 
mossy leaves to keep under water and suck up moisture 
with. It varies remarkably in size, for in a deep, run- 
ning stream or large pond it is a handsome flower, while 
in a little puddle or gutter it is so very small that the 
first time I met with it I could scarcely believe it to be 

C 



18 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP, iir 

the same flower. We must not forget the earliest of all 
huttercups, sometimes called pilewort, and sometimes 
small celandine, the stractore of which is different from 
the others, in order to suit its early blossoming. It has 
ten instead of five petals, and three divisions in the calyx, 
and the reason of this difference is believed to be that it 
may be better able to close over and protect its stamens 
and pistils in case of early frost. I have a great kindness 
for the pilewort — for its sunny, golden face, coming to 
greet us so early, and the pretty brown shading out- 
side ; nor are its shining, heart-shaped leaves without 
much beauty. 

Qarden ranunculuses are many ; Bachelors' Buttons, 
also called Fair-Maids-of-France, are a double sort The 
French call them E»perance8, or hope, and when St 
Louis was a captive among the Mahometans in Egypt, 
and could write no letter to console his wife, he sent her 
a root of this flower. Its name told her to hope on 
through her hard trial. The great scarlet globe ranun- 
culus has its proper home in Syria. Another April 
flower of the same class, and very like a great crowfoot^ is 
the marsh marigold ; indeed, the only differences between 
it and the ranunculi are, that it has no calyx, and its 
sepals are more separated. It has its name from having 
been used to dress the churches on the feast of the An- 
nunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from whose old 
English title of Our Lady many other flowers take their 
names. 




CHAPTER IV 

MAY FLOWERS 

Primroses and Violets 

Do you know what a pentagon is ? Probably not, so 
here is one to show you. It is a mathematical figure, 
with five sides and five angles all exactly 
equal, and all at the same distance from 
the centre, and very troublesome it is to 
draw one. But what has it to do with 
flowers ? It relates to them thus — ^that 
it shows the beautiful regularity and de- 
sign which is perceptible through all the works of the 
great Creator. 

Take a primrose, and compare it with the pentagon. 
Five gathered into one, or one divided into five ; that, as 
you will soon perceive, is what may be called the prin- 
ciple upon which these, and many other of our prettiest 
flowers, are formed. 

First, the primrose has a calyx all in one, a deep, close, 
hairy, green cup, with five divisions, and five points. 
This encloses a corolla,^ also all in one, consisting of a 

^ Corolla, another name for the petals or coloured part of the 
flower. 



20 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

single petal, which might be compared to a funnel, as it 
has a long narrow pipe or throat, fitting into the calyx 
below, and above spreading out into the five divisions 
which, at first sight, one would almost take for separate 
petals. What an exquisite colour they are, such as can 
only be called primrose colour, for it is so delicate that 
it is like no other yellow ; and what a beautiful little 
mark of deeper yellow there is at the lower part of each, 
so as to make another little pentagon round the throat, 
corresponding with the cleft in the middle of each division 
of the corolla. How wonderful it is that it should be so 
perfectly regular, without being stiff or formal. 

The end of the throat serves as a nectary ; there is a 
sweet drop of juice at the bottom, as the little tiny black 
flies that creep in well know, and so do the sparrows, 
though I am not sure whether it is for the sake of the 
flies or of the honey that they are so apt to pick off the 
heads of the primroses, and leave the path strewed with 
them. 

The more important parts of the flower are within the 
throat. The five stamens, which have very short filaments, 
raise their anthers like a crown just within, and in the 
midst is the pistil, with a round green germ, a tail slender 
style, and a stigma just like a pin's head. 

The stalks are of a very pretty pale pink colour, and 
covered with down ; the leaves all grow directly &om the 
root, without leaf stalks. They have one principal large 
rib, like a backbone, down the middle, and a number of 
branches spreading on each side ; and these again are 
connected with each other by lesser veins, which give the 
leaf a very curious crumpled appearance. Nothing is 
prettier than a fresh, bright bunch of primroses, the 
graceful bending stems appearing to repose upon the green 



IV MAY FLOWERS 21 

leaves ; and no plant chooses prettier places for growing ; 
on the side of a mossy bank, or niched into the rugged 
roots of some old tree. There sits the sweet pale prim- 
rose, seeming almost to smile out of its quiet retreat^ and 
giving forth a delicious mild fragrance that seems just 
suitable to its soft, pure, delicate flower. 

Prime rose means early rose, and in other languages 
its name has the same meaning. The French call it the 
prime vhre, first of the spring, and its Latin name is 
Primula, which also means the first. 

Primula is, in fact, the family name of the primrose 
and its numerous relations, the first English one of which 
is the oxlip. The oxlip's Latin name is Primula Elatior, 
one which I think suits it very well, as it seems like a 
conceited elated primrose, which had managed to perch 
itself up upon a second set of stalks, and had thereby 
grown hard and formal, without the delicate bending 
grace of the primrose ; and it is curious to see how like, 
yet how much less pretty it is, than it^ quiet retiring 
sister. Indeed, botanists are not quite agreed whether 
the oxlip is really an aspiring variety of the primrose or 
a distinct species ; that is to say, sort of flower. 

The cowslip, which has a second set of stems by nature, 
is a much more modest flower ; it muffles up its throat 
closely in its long large calyx, and hangs down its head 
so as to form one of the bells, which, according to a pretty 
German fancy, serve to ring in the spring. 

** In the cowslip's bell I lie," 

says the fairy^s song, and no fairy could look for a better 
lined palace, or a more sweetly perfumed one. The 
corolla is like soft yellow velvet, and in each division 
there is a beautiful red spot, as if to set off the rest. 



22 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

The stamens and pistil scarcely vary from those of the 
primrose. 

Cowslips can hardly be thought of without many a 
sunny remembrance of the broad green meadows where 
they may be gathered by handfnls, and the borders of 
coppices, where having a richer soil, they grow so much 
larger. Oh, the pleasure of finding a noble, great cowslip 
plant, with four or five stems, and perhaps one of them 
with as many as seventeen bells ! Then there is sure to 
be an object in gathering cowslips. Perhaps it is for a 
garland, perhaps for cowslip tea, though I suspect the 
chief niceness in that is, that it is an excuse for having 
the pleasure of making a mess, perhaps for cowslip wine, 
or, perhaps, best of all, for a cowslip ball. ^ 

Oh, the deliciously sweet, soft thing ! Let southern 
children keep their citrons, while we can have our cowslip 
balls, as large, as yellow, as fragrant, much softer, and 
giving far more pleasure, both in making and the using. 
What can compare with the delights of a cowslip ball ? 
And yet it may be a trial of temper too, as perhaps you 
may have found, when some little one may have nipped 
off her stalks too short, or, worse stOl, let go the string, so 
as to make all the cowslips fall down. If you do not keep 
your temper in such a case, even a cowslip ball may bring 
a painful remembrance with it, but I will hope better 
things of you, that so your balls may have as sweet an 
odour in remembrance as during their short life. 

Neither primroses, cowslips, nor oxlips wiU grow in 
all the counties of England ; and there is a fourth rare 
sort, of a purple colour, called the bird's-eye Primula, 
which only grows in the north. 

Now we mention purple primroses, the common regular 
primrose may be made to turn to an unwholesome-looking 



IV MAY FLOWERS 23 

pale purple, by being planted in richer soil ; the seeds of 
these empurpled primroses will grow up of a deeper, richer 
colour, sometimes purple, sometimes bright red, preserving 
the little yellow pentagon round the throat. Again, they 
may be doubled, and there are very pretty lilac double 
primroses, white ones too, and others which look as if 
they were cut out of crimson velvet, with little yellow 
spots. 

The cowslip will turn scarlet on being cultivated ; and 
by giving the pollen of the coloured primroses to the pistU 
of the cowslip, other varieties have been produced. That 
odd flower, like an oxlip with a frill on^ is one ; and 
another is that curious dweller in cottage gardens, called 
Jack-in-fr-box, his box being no other than his calyx, very 
much enlarged, but a few traces of its origin still remain- 
ing in the green marks on the edges. 

The polyanthus is another variety of the cowslip, and 
that to which most attention has been paid. Polyanthus 
fanciers have shows of them, and are very particular that 
the dark spots on the corolla should be quite regular, and 
that there should not be what they call a pin-eye ; that 
is, that the pin-like head of the pistil should not appear 
above the throat Other people may be quite contented 
with the bright yellow and brown polyanthus, or spring 
flower, as it is called, without caring for these fancied 
beauties. 

There are many foreign sorts of Primula. They grow 
in great beauty on the Alps, on the borders of the snow ; 
and many sorts have been brought to England. Auriculas, 
which name means bears' ears, have very curious powdery 
centres, and are of numerous colours — ^green, yellow, or 
purple. 

The last to be mentioned is one which town children 



24 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

are likely to know, though they may never have seen a 
real English primrose, namely, the pretty purple Chinese 
primrose, which is grown in pots, and often to be seen at 
windows, turning its graceful flowers towards the light. 
It is exactly like the wild primrose in shape, though the 
colour varies from deep lilac to pure white, and the leaves 
are of very different shape. These early spring flowers 
almost all have leaves springing from the root, instead of 
the stem, perhaps that they may grow up in shorter time. 

Here, too, is comfrey, with its prickly leaves, and bells 
of all shades from purple to white. Ah, and how could 
we pass by the little bright blue turquoise of a flower, 
that seems to call out " forget-me-not " ! Do you know 
the story of its name ? How a lady begged her lover to 
gather it for her, and while reaching it, he fell into the 
water, and was drowned, calling out as the flower floated 
near her, " Forget me not !" 

Its proper learned name is mouse-ear-scorpion grass, 
because of its pricking, clinging leaves and stems, and 
this is, too, the name of the smaller sort in the lanes and 
woods, forget-me-not being only the appellation of the 
large river kind. 

When Henry of Lancaster, afterwards King Henry IV., 
was sent into exile, he gave his friends in England the 
foi^et-me-not flower, formed of jewels, and with the two 
letters SS, which stand for the French words 8e SovA)mvr^ 
meaning " remember," so that this plant must have had 
its name long ago. 

This has been a long chapter, but I should be showing 
no due honour to the sweet violet and the painted heartV 
ease if I passed them over. They are sisters, though you 
would scarcely have guessed it ; the name of both is Viola, 
and they may be reckoned as pentagon flowers, since they 



IV MAY FLOWERS 25 

have five calyx leaves, five petals, and five stamens. The 
two upper petals stand upright, the two next are rather 
smaller, and opx>osite to each other, the lower one has }n 
front a large full lip, and behind, a curious sort of heel or 
spur which is fastened to the calyx, holds the ends of the 
other petals, and serves as the nectary, where resides the 
honey which causes the sweet smelL 

The stamens all meet in a point around the little 
round-headed pistil, and they are beautifally protected 
by the crests which grow on the inner side of the two 
middle petals. These crests are larger and more re- 
markable in the dog-violet than in any other species, 
and, indeed, I think the poor dog-violet is rather un- 
justly despised. Look at its gray flowers, with their 
black streaks and bright eyes, perched in their beds of 
moss, and so abundant and so varying in tint that if you 
were to gather only one of each variety as you passed 
through but one coppice you would soon have a very 
handsome nosegay. 

iEvery one knows and cares for the sweet violet, blue, 
white, and of a certain odd red variety, and the only 
doubt is whether people think the blue or the white the 
sweetest. They are of the same species, only the colour 
varies according to the soil in which they grow, the white 
liking clay, and the blue, real violet colour preferring 
chalk, so that I have sometimes been able to tell which 
way the school-girls have been walking, by the nosegays 
they have brought me. It is very curious that the 
coloured flowers of the sweet and dog-violet have no seed, 
but later in the year they have small green blossoms, 
which alone bear seed. 

Next comes the larger, handsomer Viola, though, after 
all, the wild heart's -ease of the south of England is not 



26 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

much larger than the dog-violet, when you find its 
pale cream-coloured flower in the long grass of a fieillow 
field. Even then it has some little dark streaks near 
the centre, and now and then a purplish stain on its two 
upper petals, and in the north it grows much larger, of 
a much more purple tint, and far more like our garden 
flower. 

Both those wild varieties have long narrow leaves, with 
curiously cut and carved wings growing on each side of 
them, and their seed-vessel is a pretty little box divided 
into three. 

The garden heart*s-ease is produced partly from these, 
and partly from one which grows wild on the Altai 
mountains, in Asia. The one I hold in my hand is quite 
a common sort^ with no fine name, but only listen to its 
description. The upper petals, large and rounded, are of 
a splendid deep velvety purple, the lower pair are exactly 
alike, the ground pale cream-colour, the outer part marked 
with a large purple spot^ the inner part with a still darker 
cluster of purple dashes, spreading out on either side. 
The lowest petal is likewise cream-colour, but with a large 
yellow mark in the centre, bordered with purple lines, 
and immediately below it another purple spot Can any- 
thing be more elaborately marked ? 

What empress in aU her splendour ever found purple 
to compare with the richness of a heart's-ease ? The sort 
which gardeners call the Black Prince is very large, and 
entirely of the deepest purple, except a little yellow near 
the eye, and a glorious flower it is. There are others all 
yellow, and some with a narrow blue line all round the 
edge, but for the most part they are of purple and yellow 
mixed, and sometimes put us in mind of a cat's face, the 
eyes, whiskers, and ears being all clearly marked ; some- 



IV MAY FLOWERS 27 

times, too, of a man with a purple cap on his head and 
a beard on his chin. 

It is probably to the very smiling face of this purple- 
capped gentleman that the flower owes its name of heart's- 
ease. Village children generally call it love-anidles, which 
unmeaning word they have made out of its old English 
name of love in idleness. It is also called i>ansy, from 
the French pensde, a thought, and sometimes by the very 
funny name of " three faces under one hood." 



CHAPTER V 

JUNE FLOWERS 

The Apple and the Rose 

June is come, and the rugged, crooked thorns, which all 
the winter looked like worn, bent, hoary old men, are 
now come out like feir young maidens, in robes of green 
and veils of white ; and as then the old gentlemen re- 
minded us of summer by wearing here and there a bunch 
of green mistletoe, so now the young ladies remind us 
of winter by wearing their white like snow upon the 
branches. Very like snow indeed, as you will find if you 
go and stand under the tree, for the wind brings down 
whole showers of the petals on the grass below. 

What is the inside of the flower like ? The structure 
may be seen enlarged in the apple blossom or the wild 
rose, and it will be easier to understand if we look at 
them. Here is a wild crab, that will not be too crabbed 
to spare us a branch of pink and white flowers. What a 
multitude of yellow stamens ! But I thought you said, 
when you told us about the buttercup, that all the many- 
stamened flowers, which you called by a hard name begin- 
ning with poly, were poisonous, and how can that be if 
the apple is one of them ? 



CHAP. V JUNE FLOWERS 29 

Well, you are right I did say that all the polyandria 
or many-stamened class were poisonous, but look here. 
Gather a buttercup from under your feet, or look in the 
next field for a scarlet poppy ; I daresay there are more 
there than the &rmer wishes, in spite of their gay red 
ooata 

Now pull off the calyx of the crowfoot It does not 
make much difference to the flower, and none at all to 
the stamens. As to the poppy, it only used its calyx for 
a nightcap, when it was in bud, and ungratefully split it 
in two, and threw it away, as soon as it opened to day- 
light You may see some in the act of performing this 
operation, the calyx already parted fix)m the stem, and the 
scarlet petals crumpled up within it 

But how shall we pull off the calyx of the rose or apple 
blossom ? It will not come without pulling the whole 
flower to pieces ; nay, it even seems a part of this great 
solid green lump on which the whole is perched. 

This is the difference, knowing which, you could tell 
what plants might safely be eaten if you were cast on a 
desert island, with no monkey to taste for you. All the 
plants which have stamens growing out of the calyx are 
harmless, all those which can spare their calyx without 
injury to the stamens are hurtful 

Besides, how different the seed-vessel is. The poppy's 
great pistil is like an urn, and when the seed is ripe, the 
upper part rises up on little supports all round, so as to 
let out the seed, and the cover is beautifully ornamented. 

But what is the seed-vessel of the apple tree ? Who 
can tell ? Yet in autumn you have a great liking for 
that same seed-vessel, which now you cannot even recollect 
Must I describe it ? The seeds are ten in number, in pairs, 
within five cells formed of two valves, all enclosed within 



CHAPTER V 

JUNE FLOWERS 

The Apple and the Rose 

June is come, and the rugged, crooked thorns, which all 
the winter looked like worn, bent, hoary old men, are 
now come out like fiEdr young maidens, in robes of green 
and veils of white ; and as then the old gentlemen re- 
minded us of summer by wearing here and there a bunch 
of green mistletoe, so now the young ladies remind us 
of winter by wearing their white like snow upon the 
branches. Very like snow indeed, as you will find if you 
go and stand under the tree, for the wind brings down 
whole showers of the petals on the grass below. 

What is the inside of the flower like ? The structure 
may be seen enlarged in the apple blossom or the wild 
rose, and it will be easier to understand if we look at 
them. Here is a wild crab, that will not be too crabbed 
to spare us a branch of pink and white flowers. What a 
multitude of yellow stamens ! But I thought you said, 
when you told us about the buttercup, that all the many- 
stamened flowers, which you called by a hard name begin- 
ning with poly, were poisonous, and how can that be if 
the apple is one of them ? 



CHAP. V JUNE FLOWERS 29 

Well, you are right I did say that all the polyandria 
or many-stamened class were poisonous, but look here. 
Gather a buttercup from under your feet, or look in the 
next field for a scarlet poppy ; I daresay there are more 
there than the &rmer wishes, in spite of their gay red 
ooata 

Now pull off the calyx of the crowfoot It does not 
make much difference to the flower, and none at all to 
the stamens. As to the poppy, it only used its calyx for 
a nightcap, when it was in bud, and ungratefully split it 
in two, and threw it away, as soon as it opened to day- 
light You may see some in the act of performing this 
operation, the calyx already parted &om the stem, and the 
scarlet petals crumpled up within it 

But how shall we pull off the calyx of the rose or apple 
blossom ? It will not come without pulling the whole 
flower to pieces ; nay, it even seems a part of this great 
solid green lump on which the whole is perched. 

This is the difference, knowing which, you could tell 
what plants might safely be eaten if you were cast on a 
desert island, with no monkey to taste for you. All the 
plants which have stamens growing out of the calyx are 
harmless, all those which can spare their calyx without 
injury to the stamens are hurtful 

Besides, how different the seed-vessel is. The poppy's 
great pistil is like an urn, and when the seed is ripe, the 
upper part rises up on little supports all round, so as to 
let out the seed, and the cover is beautifully ornamented. 

But what is the seed-vessel of the apple tree ? Who 
can tell? Yet in autumn you have a great liking for 
that same seed-vessel, which now you cannot even recollect 
Must I describe it ? The seeds are ten in number, in pairs, 
within five cells formed of two valves, all enclosed within 



32 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

ous, they are not very wholesome. Indeed, out of the 
seeds of all this tribe may be extracted the deadly poison 
called prussic acid — ^not that there is enough in any of 
them to do us the least harm — and it is this very smaU 
quantity that gives the pleasant flavour to peach kernels, 
laurel leaves, almonds, and even hazel nuts. 

Now we have had our own fruit trees, we must not 
forget the birds' fioiit trees, the store provided for those 
which gather not into bams. Yes, our heavenly Father 
feedeth them, for these white May blossoms, which delight 
our eyes in the spring, will by and by be scarlet haws 
for their food, and the white blossom of the black thorn, 
which came with the cold wind of spring, is turning 
already to a purple sloe, or wild plum. 

Haws put us in mind of hips, and with them we come 
back to the wild rose, below the flower of which you may 
already see the beginning of what botany books are pleased 
to call the pitcher-shaped fruit, though I can see very 
little of such shape in it At present it verifies the 
proverb, "little pitchers have long ears" (I hope you 
have not in the sense the proverb means), for it has five 
most beautiful, long, graceful, fringed leaflets, which form 
the especial grace and beauty both of the rose and bud. 
There is a peculiarity about these leaflets which is prettily 
expressed in this riddle : — 

** Of us five brothers at the same time bom, 
Two, from our birthday, ever beards have worn ; 
On other two, none ever have appeared. 
While the fifth brother wears but half a beard." 

This is a fine puzzle for most people, but if you cannot 
make it out with a rose calyx before your eyes I think 
you must be rather dulL 



V JUNE FLOWERS 33 

Admire the five pretty deft petaLs of the flower, and 
see how their tints vary, some so snowy white, some so 
deep and delicate a pink ; and is there anywhere to be 
seen anything more graceful and lovely than those long 
bending wreaths, covered with the el^;ant leaves, each 
consisting of five serrated leaflets, two pair opposite, and 
one at the point? And the deep pink buds in their 
bowers, and the more fuUy opened blossoms, and even 
the bunch of stamens which has lost its petals and doubled 
back its leaflets, how pretty they aU are, and how well 
they ornament the hedge ! 

It may be that you can find the sweet brier or eglantine 
growing wild, with its pink flowers and delicious leaves, 
and even some of the dog roses have slightly fragrant 
leaves. There are no less than twenty-two sorts of roses 
growing wild in this island of ours, the difference between 
them being principally marked by the form of the fruit, 
of the leai^ and of the thorns. Scottish roses are more 
deeply coloured than English ones, and more briery. 

Here Scottish roses bring us into the garden, and 
where shall we stop now ? See the flame -coloured 
Austrian brier spread itself over the house and show its 
beauteous blossoms, yellow outside and orange within. 
See the sweet little Banksia dimb still higher, and fling 
its luxuriant wreaths even round the very chimneys j see 
the dark red China cluster round the cottage window, 
almost a sure token that content and cleanliness are 
within. 

Yes, roses must be pardoned for being double, since 
their ofl&ce is to be fragrant and beautiful ; and while their 
relations have improved their fruit for our taste, they have 
improved their blossom for two of our other senses, till 
the rose is owned as the queen of flowers. 

D 



34 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

The honest old round cabbage rose, solid, and with a 
depth of healthy sweetness which invites you to plunge 
your nose far into the deep pink cup ; the moss rose, 
with the calyx crusted over with thick mossy hairs, so as 
to form those surpassingly lovely buds ; the snowy Pro- 
vence rose; the dark velvety damask — these are the 
oldest and the best loved, though there are multitudes of 
new choice ones grown in costly gardens. 

The Provence rose was first grown by King Ren^, 
Count of Provence, and father of our queen, Margaret of 
Anjou, so that it seems as if our red-rose queen ought to 
have changed colours with her enemies of the white-rose 
party. The red and white striped York-and-Lancaster 
rose always puts us in mind of the ending of those bloody 
wars by the marriage of Henry VII. and the Princess 
Elizabeth. 

Henry VIII. used as his badge the York-and-Lancaster 
rose, which, whenever we see it carved in the buildings 
of his time, always looks as square and broad-faced as the 
king himself. The white rose, long after, was worn by 
the Scottish Jacobites, as a token of the hereditary right 
of the Stuarts. 

The damask rose is properly the rose of Damascus, the 
most famous place in the world for roses, where the per- 
fume called "attar of roses'' is made. At Shiraz, in 
Persia, this scent is also distilled, and there you may 
literally sleep on a bed of roses, whole rooms being filled 
with the delicious petals. China is full of roses, and it is 
the amusement of the Chinese gardeners to dwarf their 
growth, so as to make them, flowers, leaves, stem and all, 
so small that you would call them doll's flowers, and think 
them fit to put into a baby house. 

The pink China rose, though not so pretty as its sisters. 



V JUNE FLOWERS 35 

blows so early and so late that it is valuable. It is re- 
markable that all the northern roses have their styles well 
protected with down, while all the southern ones are bare 
to suit their warmer climates. 

The beautiful fragrant and fruit-bearing tribe of plants 
of which I have been speaking are those however which 
chiefly remind us of the curse of Adam, since they are 
also the thorn-bearers. " No rose without a thorn," has 
often been remembered by those who have scratched their 
fingers, or who have found pain where they expected 
pleasure. But as joy often comes out of grief, and happi- 
ness out of well-endured punishment, so even the chief of 
thorns, the bramble, the most despised of plants, has fruit 
to yield us, the juicy dewberry and shining blackberry. 
And very handsome is a bramble bush in autumn adorned 
with its fruit, the ripe so polished a black, the unripe so 
bright a red. Who does not like blackberry picking ? 

In the case of the bramble blossom, if you venture to 
gather it you wiU find the numerous cluster of germs 
within the corolla. Each germ afterwards becomes a 
single seed enclosed in dark purple fleshy pulp, and all 
sit together on the receptacle which rises up in the 
middle of them, like a finger under a thimble or a head 
in a cap. 

The raspberry is a brother of the blackberry, and is 
very like it, only the petals are hardly visible, and the 
fruit is more juicy and larger. In America, when a piece 
of ground is cleared by burning, the first thing that comes 
up after the fire is always a crop of wild raspberries of 
delicious flavour. 

What is here called the American raspberry is not, how- 
ever, very good to eat, and is only grown in shrubberies 
for the sake of its large pink flowers and handsome leaves, 



36 THE HEBB OF THE FIELD CHAP. T 

which are mudi more agreeable than thoee of die brambVt, 
or raspberrr hudi, whiich hare die hooked dioais aU akmg 
their main stem. 

Last of all, we must give a word to the himible straw- 
berrr bloeeom, with its white petals and tcDow gfaMnpng 
It likewise has manj germs, which become the litde seeds 
on the outside of the firnit, the fimit itself being in reality 
the enlarged reoeptade which has taken them np, oS their 
feet, as it were, and raised them on hi^ The calyx, 
and scHnetimes even a stray petal, may be found below. 

Hnnting for wood strawbemes is pleasant woik, and 
so is the stringing them all in a row on a long piece of 
grass, where they look like red and white beads, the more 
nnripe the better, as they are not qnile so soft And 
eating them is very pleasant too on a hot sommer^s day. 



CHAPTER VI 

JULY FLOWEBS 

BvMerfly Flowers 

Qo into the kitchen garden, and look at the rows of peas, 
and tell me what you see there. 

I see a number of pea plants climbing on their sticks ; 
there are peas upon them, some not quite filled out, and 
some eaten by the birds, and there are some white flowers 
stilL 

And what do you think those white flowers are most 
like ? I see something in the air looking very much as 
if one of them had taken wing and flown away. Ah ! it 
is a white butterfly ! Well, peas -blossom and aU its com- 
pany are called Papilionaceous flowers, from. Papilio, 
which in Latin means butterfly ; but I am not sure that 
I would not rather call them boat flowers, as you will see 
when we come to look into them. 

These white peas-blossoms are rather too useful to be 
gathered, so perhaps we had better go to the flower-garden, 
for their gayer, though less valuable sister, the sweet-pea, 
a Sicilian lady, who has only come to live in England 
within the last two hundred yeara 

She has but a weak, feeble, climbing stem, which 



38 THE HSSB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

must lay hold of something ; and to gire it more breadth, 
so that it may be firmer, it has a sort of long leaf grow- 
ing on to it at each side, which is caDed a wing. It also 
has the power of putting ont tendrils, or feelers, which 
twist about spirally, that is to say, like a corkscrew, till 
they find something to lay hold o^ and then bind them- 
selves on to it fast and firmly. Sometimes two tendrils 
make a mistake, and get hold of each other, and then they 
coil about and get marvellously twisted. 

The leaves are in pairs at the joints of the stem, the 
blossoms, for the most part, grow singly on very slender 
footstalks, and there is good reason for the slendemess of 
these stalks, as you will presently see. 

Each bears a calyx of one lea^ ending in five points, 
and if we strip off this calyx carefully, we shall see that 
it contains five petals, each with a little foot to &sten it 
to the receptacle. 

The first of these petals is this handsome, deep crim- 
son one, which looks as if it had been folded in the 
middle. And if you look at the bud, you wiU see that 
it was really, for this petal is doubled over the others 
like a curtain, before the blossom opena Its name is the 
standard, because it stands up above the rest and shows 
its colours so boldly ; but it might also be called the sail, 
for it answers the purpose of one; the wind blows it 
round, so that it always keeps its back to the bad 
weather, and serves as a shield to the delicate parts 
within. 

Two long, narrow, purple petals project in firont of 
the standard, and bend towards each other, so as nearly 
to meet ; these are the wings, folding together so as to 
guard the innermost part Within them is the little boat 
itself, which is called the keel, and is greenish white. Is 



VI JULY FLOWERS 39 

it not beautifully shaped, the sharp ridge along the 
bottom, with the little beak at the end for the prow ? 
It is just such a boat as one might fancy the king of the 
fairies floating along in by moonlight, with his crimson- 
velvet standard serving at once for his flag and his saiL 

And perhaps the queen of the fairies might sail by his 
side, in the pearly nautilus-like keel of the painted lady- 
pea, with the pink standard unfurled to the wind. How- 
ever, while we are fancying all this, we are forgetting to 
see how our little boat is really manned, and how rich a 
freight it bears. 

Open it gently and look into its narrow little hold. 
Ah ! here is a fine store of gold-dust bursting out upon 
our fingers ; it is a rich burthen indeed that these ten 
merry men bear who are gathered so close round their 
taller, fatter captain, with the one feather in his cap. 

Very closely are the ten filaments gathered, so closely 
indeed that they are even imited, so as to form a regular 
sheath round the long thick germ of the pistil Nine of 
them are actually grown into one piece, but the tenth is, 
as you may see, in a somewhat advanced blossom, separate 
from the rest, so as to form a kind of seam, and the use 
of this is, that when the germ has received the golden 
pollen and begins to swell, this stamen may part from the 
rest, and open the sheath, so that the pistil may have full 
room to expand. 

Could a more perfect contrivance be imagined, and are 
not the wonders of the peas-blossom greater than almost 
any others of which we have yet heard ? The germ is, 
as you see, long and flat, and it is already nearly of the 
same shape as the pod of a pea ; and as to its contents, 
you know them probably quite as well as I do. 

All the papilionaceous flowers have legumes or pods for 



40 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

fioiit, and we have many valuable friends among them. 
Scarlet runners, or French beans, are the nearest at hand, 
with their beautiful red flowers, which are so bright that 
they would surely be grown for show even if they were 
of no use. The ripe seeds of the scarlet runner are beauti- 
ful things, shining black, mottled with purple ; and I 
have sometimes seen a little child made very happy 
with a long string of them threaded. They are beauti- 
ftd too when grown to their full size, but not yet ripe, 
when they are of a rich purple crimson within their green 
shelL 

The fragrant bean blossom has been long since over, 
but I daresay you can recollect its striped standard, and 
the fine black spots upon each of its wings ; and its broad 
sturdy fruit is just now in perfection for eating with its 
companion, bacon. Next year you must go and watch 
the bees gathering honey frx)m the bean flowers. So well 
folded within the wings and standard is the keel that the 
bee cannot get in by the front, but is obliged to pierce a 
little hole through all the different folds with its long 
trunk before it can reach the juice. Sometimes you may 
find every flower on a bean plant thus pierced by the 
clever little gatherers of honey. 

The broad bean is so large that it gives a very good 
opportunity for seeing the commencement of the growth 
of plants. You know it has a thick skin over it, which 
when you pull it off splits into two halves, only held 
together by a little green and white hard thing, which we 
call the eye. 

When sown, the white part of the eye becomes the 
root) the green part the stem, and afterwards the rest of 
the plant, while the two large fleshy halves of the bean 
itself appear above ground as cotyledons or seed leaves. 



TI JULY FLOWERS 41 

and gather nourishment till the young plant is able to 
put out its own leaves, when they £bJ1 off and die. 

The earlier papilionaceous flowers are very beautiful — 
there is the graceful, drooping laburnum in the shrubbery, 
of so pure and delicate a yellow, the pretty brown pen- 
cilled mark on the standard ; but it does not exceed in 
beauty the two wild yellow butterfly flowers. The 
broom, raising its graceful spires of yellow blossoms on 
its dark green stems, seems to drink in the sunshine of 
May, and reflect it back again in cheerfulness. It grows 
in great quantities, and to an immense size, all over the 
desolate moors of Brittany and Anjou, and it must have 
been while hunting there that Gteoffrey, the father of our 
Henry II., used to gather it and wear it in his cap, so 
that its French name of Genet became part of the sur- 
name of our bold English kings. It is said that they 
desired that their name of Plantagenet, taken from so 
humble a plant, might put them in mind not to exalt 
themselves too highly. 

And we need not despise the useful household lessons 
which are connected with this bright-feiced plant and its 
plain old English name ; for the good housewife and her 
broom may do her duty, and be quite as valuable in her 
way as the Plantagenet king who took his name from the 
same bush ; and if the once green boughs do their office 
in keeping the house cheerful and pure and fresh, they 
well deserve to be honoured by being worn in the helmet 
of the crowned prince whose office it is to protect the 
safety and the purity of that humble home. 

Our other yellow butterfly flower is the prickly gorse 
or furze, which wears its sweet smelling golden mantie in 
the spring, in such splendour that many a wild heath be- 
comes for a time a fleld of the cloth of gold which would 



42 THE HERB OF THE FIELD chap. 

have put King Harry the Eighth's to shame, even though 
his courtiers wore their whole yearns income on their 
backs. England may be proud of its gorse, for it grows 
in such beauly nowhere else ; and, indeed, it is said that 
when Linnaeus, the Swede, and the greatest naturalist 
that ever lived, first came to England and saw a common 
covered with furze in fall blossom, he was so overcome 
that he fell down on his knees in a rapture at the sight. 

The small dwarf furze is still in blossom, and will 
continue till the frost ; and there are, besides, all the 
beautiful tribe of vetches and vetchlings, the tiny crimson 
heath pea, the purple vetchling making bowers in the 
hedge, the yellow vetchling on the chalky bank, and the 
tiny little gray tare. 

The lupins, with their many-fingered spreading leaves 
and tall spikes of blossom, ornament the garden, and 
greenhouses generally contain the little dark lotus, said to 
be the only black flower in existence ; but we have a 
much prettier lotus of our own — ^the birds' foot trefoil — 
80 called from its seed pods spreading out from one centre 
like the claws of a bird. Pretty little dwarf thing 1 it 
grows on sunny banks, and raises its red buds and clusters 
of yellow flowers in the midst of soft green moss, fragrant 
purple thyme, and striped eye-bright, and is one of the 
brightest stitches in that unequalled embroidery of the 
cushions of banks, on which it is so pleasant to sit in the 
bright days of the latter end of summer. It is sometimes 
called Lady's fingers, in honour of the Blessed Virgin. A 
large lotus grows in the Levant, and it was an old fancy 
that the Lotus-Eater forgot all care and was no longer 
subject to sorrow or death. So the lotus stood for im- 
mortality, and old painters sometimes put it into pictures 
of scenes after the Besurrection. 



VI 



JULY FLOWERS 43 



The last to be mentioned among these flowers is the 
dover, or trefoil, in all its many kinds. Its heads, 
whether of the lArge purple, the white, the little yellow, 
or the rich crimson, all consist of a multitude of small 
papilionaceous flowera How gay and beautiful they are I 
how bright a clover field looks in the sun, and how especi- 
ally handsome is a great field of the new-&shioned scarlet 
clover, which people have not yet left off calling by the 
Latin name of Trifolium Incamatum. It is curious to 
find in an old gardening book of fifty years ago that this 
scarlet clover had then been twice introduced as a garden 
flower, but had been lost again, whereas now it is to be 
seen everywhere, and in a few years will, no doubt, be 
wild in our hedges. This, I have no doubt, was the case 
with the lucerne, which was brought here from the place 
of that name in Switzerland, as well as with the bright 
red saint-foin, the name of which consists of two French 
words, signifying " holy hay." 

The strawberry-headed trefoil has numerous short 
pods, that form a globe, and cause its name. The hare's- 
foot trefoil has very long calyx teeth that stand out beyond 
the pods in an oblong cluster, rather like the foot of a 
hare. But the subterraneous trefoil is the strangest of all, 
for after the blossom is over it buries its pods while they 
form the seed — in fact it sows itself. 

Trefoil means three leaves, and you may easily see why 
it is so called. There is a beautiful story which explains 
why the shamrock or trefoil is so honoured by the Irish, 
and its leaves worn by them on St. Patrick's Day. 

St. Patrick was a bishop, who lived about the year 
450, and who preached the Gk)spel in Ireland. It is said 
that he found that the great difficulty in converting the 
Irish was, that they would not believe, because they could 



44 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP, vi 

not understand tlie great mystery of the Doctrine of the Holy 
Trinity in Unity. At last he gathered a shamrock or trefoil 
leaf from the ground, and, holding it up to them, asked 
if they could explain to him how this could be but one leaf, 
and yet be three separate leaves, and if they could not 
understand that, and yet knew it to be true, how should 
they refuse to believe what was so much greater, because 
their minds could not reach so fsir as to understand it. 

This argument convinced the Irish, and the threefold 
leaf has ever since been highly valued by them ; and we 
often see it employed as an emblem in architecture. The 
limbs of crosses are often made to end in trefoils ; church 
windows are sometimes in the same form, and it is a shape 
frequently chosen for carved foliage. 

So we see how in every plant Gkxi has set lessons of 
His Name and Nature for those who will look for them. 
I have read of a poor man in Brittany who was told by 
a wicked infidel revolutionary soldier, "We will throw 
down your churches ; you shall have nothing to remind 
you of your superstition," which was what these unhappy 
men called the Christian religion. "You cannot take 
away the stars," answered the Breton, meaning that while 
he had them he must stiU be for ever reminded of Him 
who made the stars. 

And so even with the smallest herb that grows ; not 
only has their Maker created them so perfect and so lovely 
that we can hardly help recollecting how great, how kind, 
and how wise He is every time we look at them, but He 
has also set upon them His seal, so that we may trace out 
in them emblems of His Nature as revealed to us, which 
come to us as siy^eet lessons and helps, and might serve to 
support our faith, even if our other aids were far away. 

These butterfly flowers are properly the pea tribe. 



CHAPTER VII 

AUGUST FLOWEBS 

The Last Bella of Summer 

The bright flush of sTimmer is fast fading away, and 
though the heat is not gone, jet all the first gay bloom is 
past, and the time is come which is compared to middle 
life, when man's first hopes and early promises are fEiding, 
but when they should have begun to bring forth fruit, 
fruit which may not always ripen here, but will assuredly 
do so hereafter in the soil of which we are inheritora 

But if the spring buds, the early delights, and perhaps 
the friends, of youth and childhood have passed away, 
yet neither the year nor the life of man are left to be 
lonely and cheerless. Many a new bright young friend, 
many a quiet pleasure unknown before, many a happy 
and peaceful duty arise ere yet the earlier ones are gone, 
and early autumn has her garland of sweet flowers, the 
beUs which brighten the last hours of summer, and, as the 
Germans say, ring its knell. 

Yes, the bells are ringing summer's knell everywhere. 
The real bell flowers, the Campanulas,^ began a month 
ago to imfold their delicate blue bells. Wherever we go 

^ Campanula, a little bell. 



46 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

we meet them, all five-stamened, pentagonal, drooping 
flowers, of a peculiarly delicate texture. They have one 
pistil with a graceful three -cleft branched stigma, and 
a very hairy style. The little hairs are useful to brush 
the pollen out of the anthers, as the style passes through 
them in lengthening, and thus this fertilising dust finds 
its way to the stigma. The seed-vessel is a curious five- 
clefb purse, which splits open in the middle of each 
division instead of at the sides. 

Peals of these Campanula bells are nodding on their 
tall stalks everywhere, the Canterbury bells in the garden, 
the nettle-leaved bell flower in the hedges of the south, 
and the tall pale blue giant bell flower in the north ; the 
moor rings its ivy-leaved bells, so small and close to the 
ground ; the chalk pit has its rich, dark blue clustered 
bell flower ; and the stubble, in some fortunate places, is 
ornamented with a Campanula so beautiful that it has 
the name of Venus's looking-glass, since even the fiabled 
goddess of beauty herself could not see anything so pretty 
as this in her own mirror ; but surely if we could but 
hear them, the sweetest and softest tones of all must be 
rung out by the single bells of the dear little delicate 
harebell, nodding on its slim tender stalk, looking so frail 
that we should fancy no care could be too great to rear 
such an elegant thing. Yet it will bloom on through aU 
the autumn, in the coldest and most exposed situations, 
brightening the waste with its modest beauty, and never 
leaving us till the first frost has come to nip it. So fond 
are the Scots of this pretty flower that decks their bleak 
mountains and moors, that it seems to 1;hem, wherever 
they see it, a symbol of home, and it has the name of ** the 
bluebells of Scotland." 

Other bells are ringing round it on the common, espe- 



VII AUGUST FLOWBRS 47 

cially the heather bells, which I could fieaicy would make 
a sharp, quick, tinkling sound, just fit for a fiEdry's dinner 
bell ; indeed, what with their stiff hard leaves and dry 
chaffy corolla, you may almost ring them yourself! 

The heaths have eight stamens, with purple anthers in 
two divisions opening like the prongs of a fork, and one 
pistil, the germ of which contains multitudinous little 
winged seeds, so small that they are not easily seen. 

You will be surprised to hear that this small scram- 
bling plant is a very good geographer, and has a particular 
dislike to Asia, though one would have thought it might 
be like the Russian empire, and not be particular whether 
it was aU in one. quarter of the world ; but no, the heath 
is a steady European, and though it grows in quantities 
all over the western side of the Ural Mountains, not one 
piece ever spreads to the eastern side, or is found in any 
part of the whole Asiatic continent. There are plenty of 
African and American heaths, however, and very beautiful 
they are, with splendid large red, yellow, or white bells, 
and dark thready stamens. However, Britain may be 
well contented with her own three sorts of heather, or 
more properly five sorts, but one of them is only wild in 
Cornwall, and the other in Ireland — why, I cannot teU. 

The three are : the large cross-leaved heath, with all 
its pale blush-coloured bells in one cluster ; the purple 
heath, branching for ever, and scrambling aU over the 
common ; and the ling, spiring up in such graceful branch- 
ing forms, sometimes tall slender spikes, sometimes round 
garlands, sometimes little lilac trees— aU so indescribably 
lovely that it is "difficult to leave off gathering when once 
you begin. 

These tiny heaths make more show in the world than 
much larger and handsomer flowers, putting us in mind 



48 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. VII 

tliat the whole Church, and the whole nation, take their 
colour more from the multitude of the lowly and humble 
members than from the great and noted. It is the purple 
heath that gives the rich tint to the distant landscape, 
giving mountains and moors far away a fine glowing hue, 
through the blue haze of distance. And they are very 
valuable for the common uses of life, as well as beautiful 
to look on. A bed of fresh heather is said to be most 
delicious from its elastic springiness ; the dry woody stalks 
are bound up in bundles for burning, and a heath broom 
is a very useful article. 

African heaths from the Gape of Gkx)d Hope are known 
by the name of Epacris, are very handsome, with long 
yellow or white bells tipped with scarlet, and when they 
are kept in hot-houses they blossom at their own season 
of summer, which is our winter. 



CHAPTER VIII 

BBFTEMBEB FLOWERS 

Compound Flowers 

You have learnt by this time that there can be no perfect 
flower without stamens and pistils, and that no double 
flowers are ever found growing wild excepting now and 
then by what people are pleased to call a freak of 
nature. 

However, here is a puzzle for you : no one can doubt 
that dandelions and thistles are wild, since no one ever 
takes the trouble to grow them ; and thistle down and 
dandelion clocks will not allow us to doubt that they 
both produce as much seed as, and more too, than any 
one wants or wishes. Moreover, where are the stamens 
and pistils of a daisy ? 

I think you must be in a difficulty ; and now I will 
surprise you still more by telling you that the daisy 
and dandelion have in reality more stamens and pistils 
than any flower with which you have yet been made 
acquainted. 

If you have a large kitchen garden, and if the gardener 
ever lets his artichokes run to seed, you will there have 
the best opportunity of seeing the structure of flowers of 

E 



60 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

this class, since the parts are so large as to be easily 
examined without a magnifying glass. I have a great 
admiration for an artichoke flower, with its crown of blue 
petals and pale lilac styles, of such an exquisite light 
bright colour; it rises up so nobly in the autumnal 
garden, and if gathered and brought into the house often 
puzzles people who would never think of seeing such a 
handsome thing come out of a kitchen garden. 

If you can get an artichoke blossom look at it closely, 
and pull it to pieces as well as its very strong, hard calyx 
will allow you, and you will find that it is, in fectj one 
great head, consisting of a multitude of small flowers 
closely packed together on the same receptacle, within the 
same calyx. Each floret, or little flower, consists, you 
see, of one petal deeply cut. Within is one pistil, very 
long and slender ; the five stamens are much shorter and 
smaller, and their anthers are united round the style just 
as in the violet and heartsease. 

All these heads of small florets are called together 
Compound Flowers ; and there are a great many difi'erent 
species, many of which come into blossom late in the year, 
and are now ornamenting our gardens and fields. 

The calyx of most of these is composed of small leaves 
laid one over the other like tiles, or scales imbricated, as 
this is properly called. You may see this in the artichoke, 
though here each scale is very large, thick, and fleshy at 
the place where it is set into the receptacle. So you see 
it is the bud of the artichoke blossom which is sent up to 
itable ; the arti, as a little boy I knew used to call the 
reatable part, is the receptacle, and the choke consists of 
the young florets. 

The Jerusalem artichoke is also a compound flower, 
i;hougli it is not related to the common artichoke, except- 



VIII SEPTEMBER FLOWERS 51 

ing that its root has a taste supposed to resemble that of 
its namesake. In both its names this vegetable seems to 
have made a great blunder, for it has really nothing to do 
with Jerusalem, and the word is only a corruption of the 
Italian gvra/r sole, turn to the sun, it being really a species 
of sunflower. 

Both sunflowers and Jerusalem artichokes were first 
found in Peru, where they were held in high esteem by the 
natives, who considered them as sacred to the sun, and wore 
their blossoms in their hair at all their great festivals. 

In sunflowers much of the structure of compound 
flowers may easily be seen, as the florets are all of a large 
size ; all those in the centre, or, as it is sometimes called, 
the disk, perfect and regular flowers, with five united 
stamens and one pistil, but the large yeUow ones on the 
outside, which at first sight might have been taken as the 
petals, have in fact one petal, grown to a great size, and 
no stamens at alL These are called the strap -shaped 
florets, and serve the same purpose as the corolla in simple 
flowers, namely, to protect the more perfect and regular 
ones which produce the seed. 

Each seed of the sunflower kind is of a dark brown or 
gray, all firmly set within the calyx ; and in the case of 
that glorious old-fashioned flower, the large sunflower, the 
great circular receptacle puts me in mind of a round 
shield. Turkeys and poultry greatly like the oily seeds of 
the large sunflower, and the whole plant is very hand- 
some, standing up high in the garden of some cottage or 
farmhouse, with its great broad golden blossoms as bright 
with their yellow rays as if they wished to grow into the 
likeness of the sun at which they are always looking. 

For solid as is the stalk of this flower, it always turns 
towards the sun through his whole course. At sunrise 



52 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

the blossoms are each one of them tumed to the east, 
hj noonday their bright faces are steadfastly tumed to 
the south, the parting rays of the western sun still play 
upon the broad disk of the constant sunflower, and ere 
the morning light has dawned it has set its face to watch 
for the eastern glow. It is one of the brightest, clearest 
lessons written in God's great book of nature ; for is it 
not thus that the Christian, through the morning, noon- 
day, and eVentide of his Hfe, earnestly looks up to the 
Sun of Righteousness in heaven, till he is transformed in 
His likeness, and when at length night comes upon him, 
is he not laid down to sleep, with his fa.ce towards the 
east, watching for the dawning of the brightest day ? 

The daisy, the bright day's eye, is a little sunflower in 
its own humble, quiet way, and when the sun is out 
of sight it folds its pink-and-white strap-shaped florets 
over its yellow eye, bends its head, and sleeps amid the 
dewy grass. All its perfect florets are not in blossom 
together ; those at the edge come out flrst, and the centre 
ones not till the strap-shaped outer florets are often much 
the worse for wear. When you make a daisy chain you 
thrust the needle and thread through the receptacle, or 
disk, and the centre florets. How very grand this sounds 1 
You think, and so do I, that it is much pleasanter to 
make a capital long daisy chain than to talk about it in 
such fine words. Daisy chains are country children's 
strings of pearls, the pearls of the meadow, as we may call 
them, for the very same word, Margarita, signifies at once 
a daisy and a pearl ; and if any little Margarets read this 
chapter perhaps they will remember to have been some- 
times called pearls, or sometimes daisies. 

St Margaret of Cortona is always drawn with a daisy 
in her hand, or growing near her, and in honour of her 



VIII SEPTEMBER FLOWERS 63 

a daisy was the device of Margaret, St. Louis's queen, as 
well as of our own bold, high-spirited Queen Margaret of 
Anjou, who does not seem to have had a right to anything 
so meek and lowly. There is a beautiful book of hers in 
the British Museum, given to her by the great Lord 
Talbot, with the first page ornamented with a rich border 
of daisiea A double daisy is one in which the strap- 
shaped florets have been multiplied till they exclude the 
perfect ones in the disk ; they are often very pretty when 
they are of bright crimson or snowy white ; and where 
is the child that is not proud of that funny thing, a hen- 
and-chicken daisy, in the border of a little garden bed ! 

The next flowers of which daisies remind us are the 
great bold-looking ox-eye daisies of the spring, with their 
clear white and bright yellow. They are sometimes called 
Moon Daisies, but they are not real daisies, but with their 
yellow brother, the corn-ox-eye, are chrysanthemums, of 
the same genus as the red, white, and yellow double 
flowers which linger on in the garden till the first frost. 
The corn-ox-eye sometimes makes a whole field golden, 
but as it is an annual we cannot reckon on finding it 
another year in the same place. The Chinese play fine 
tricks with their chrysanthemums, clipping and training 
them to grow in the shape of horses, deer, and sometimes 
even Pagodas. In England a show of these flowers is 
beautiful. 

Nor must we quite pass September without a kindly 
remembrance of the sober Michaelmas-daisy, with its gray 
border and smiling eye, coming to stay with us through 
the autumn as long as ever the frost will allow it This 
is an Aster or Star. There is a little sea aster very like 
it, and its near relations are the China and German asters 
that are so handsome in the autumn. 



54 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

And there too, are the noble flowers called dahlias, 
which were first brought, small and single, from Mexico, 
where they were called cocoxochitl, and truly they have 
improved their name as much as their beauty since their 
arrival in England. Single dahlias are fine handsome 
flowers; the double ones are certainly very fine, dark 
velvety puce, rich crimson and scarlet, white and lilac, 
regularly and exquisitely marked, and each floret quilled 
and folded with perfect regularity. They are some of the 
flowers on which gardeners most pride themselvea 

But we must come back to our own hedges and ditches, 
where we find the strong-scented camomile flower, so use- 
ful in medicine, the lilac flea-bane, the tall golden-rod, aU 
autumn flowers ; moreover, the rude rough rag -weed, 
yellow, bold, and staring, and with its jagged leaves 
usually devoured by swarms of yellow and black cater- 
pillars, their yellow parts of exactly the same hue as the 
flowers. 

All these are of the same description as the daisy and 
sunflower, with a disk of perfect flowers and a ray of 
strap-shaped florets. Such also is the groundsel, though 
it has no ray, the very troublesome groundsel, regarded 
with kindness by none save the little gardeners who want 
a weed to pull up,. or by those who have a c£^ed canary 
to rejoice with twisting it into the bars of its cage. That 
inveterate groundsel, which will come up everywhere, is 
the strongest of all emblems of the ill weeds that have 
grown apace in the soU of our heart ever since that, as 
well as the ground, was made a soil to be cultivated with 
care and severe toil before it will bring forth aught but 
what is worthless. The American groundsel is a pretty 
purple flower with a ray, and is much grown in gardens. 

There is another odd-looking flower belonging to this 



VIII SEPTEMBER FLOWERS 55 

order ; the small brown cud-weed with the white cottony 
leaves, which grows in the stubble fields in the autumn. 
This cud -weed has, however, some very pretty brothers ; 
the everlasting flowers, the calyx of which, consisting of a 
number of small, stif^ chaffy leaves, is not liable to fade, 
but both the yellow and white kinds can be kept for a 
long time in some dry place as a winter nosegay. I have 
some on my mantelpiece which were given me by a little 
schoolgirl more than two years ago. Sometimes we see 
them in wreaths in gardeners' shops, dyed of different 
colours, in red and blue. There is a large fine red sort 
too, and a large yellow one, the last of which we often 
see in gardens. These amaranths, or everlasting flowers, 
though stiff and not very gracefcd in themselves, are con- 
sidered as the emblems of the never-fading flowers beyond 
the grave ; and in France and Qermany it is the custom 
to lay garlands of them on the coffin, and often to hang 
fresh wreaths of them upon the graves of those who have 
passed into the other world. A woolly white one that 
grows on the Swiss mountains is called Edehveiss, or Noble 
White. Maidens like it as a gift from their lovers. A 
white everlasting which grows at the Cape of Gkx)d Hope 
is used in church decorations here. I have heard a lady 
say she has seen the great apes at the Cape playing at ball 
on the hills with these curious round blossoms. 

Next we come to such flowers as, like the real arti- 
choke, are composed entirely of equal and perfect florets. 
First of these is the thistle, the cursed thistle, as one sort 
is called, the plant which, together with the bramble, 
grows everywhere to remind man of his doom. And yet 
the thistle is a noble and beautiful flower, with its purple 
florets, its calyx of firm solid scales lapping over one 
another, and each ending in such a long, sharp, piercing 



56 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

4agger, besides the numerous lesser spines wliich bristle 
up at every point like an army of spears around the soft 
rich purple cushion within. Every leaf too has its own 
spines, every joint of the stalk is well guarded, and it 
well deserves the motto which the Scots have given at 
once to it and to their kingdom — " No one can provoke 
me with impunity." 

The thistle, with its purple cap and coronet of spines, 
has long been the national emblem of Scotland ; the 
reason why is not known, though it seems to me that 
long ago I read a story of a Dane at the head of an in- 
vading army, who stealing in secret, barefooted, to attack 
the Scottish camp in the night, suddenly trod upon a 
thistle, and by his cry of pain put the Scots on their 
guard, so that the attempt at surprising them failed. But 
I have never been able to find the story again, and am 
sometimes inclined to believe I must have dreamt it At 
any rate the gallant King James V. instituted the order of 
Knights of the Thistle, and this common wayside plant 
was the chosen device of the House of Stuart. 

If you choose to venture your fingers in pulling a 
thistle to pieces, you will find the tiny purple florets with 
five stamens and one pistil each, and each little pistil has 
a long, narrow, silky white cotton wing fastened to its 
germ. As the flower fades these cotton wings grow 
larger ; they fiU the calyx till it seems as if it was a 
white silk thistle instead of a purple one, then they puff 
out into a handsome soft head, and at last they take flight, 
and these full-spread white wings go floating hither and 
thither on the autumn wind tiU at last they become fixed, 
and grow and multiply, alas ! far too like bad habits, 
lightly caught and fast fixed, and too soon full of spines 
and thorns. 



VIII SEPTEMBER FLOWERS 57 

Luckily goldfinches eat a good many of these mis- 
chievous downy seeds, or I do not know what would 
become of us. I have seen the whole air so full of thistle- 
down as to look as if it was snowing, for the sluggard can- 
not allow the thistle to grow in his own field without 
damaging that of his neighbour. The great milk thistle, 
with the green leaves variegated with white, is the prettiest 
of fiJl ; there is also the dwarf stemless thistle, which looks 
beautiful on the chalk down, and its companion the brown 
one, equally small, and looking as if it was a dead flower. 

The great hardworking dumbledores love to hum over 
the thistles and rest on the purple tuft, which makes a 
royal cushion for those black velvet and orange-coloured, 
burly, portly creatures. 

If thistles are like bad habits so too are the burdocks, 
which stick so fast and hold so tight that it seems im- 
possible to get rid of them, as each scale of the calyx has 
a little sharp pointed hook at the end. I remember once 
a little village boy in his play stuck his jacket over with 
these burs to look like the long rows of buttons on a 
page's jacket ; I have always wondered how long he was 
in getting them out again. 

Dandelions are of the same kind, with perfect florets 
and winged pistils, which make such beautiful globes that 
children so love to blow away and call clocks, fancying 
the number of puffs will give that of the hour. Or in our 
shops I have known them serve as mops. The curious 
imlky juice which stains the fingers of those who make 
dandelion chains is of use in medicine, and the root is 
sometimes ground up and mixed with coffee for people in 
weak health. The chains, formed by joining the two ends 
of the hollow stem are very pretty things, and what pride 
to make them reach all round the garden ! By the way. 



58 THE HERB OF THE YIELD CHAP. 

the name of the flower does not mean a conceited lion, as 
might have been supposed, it is only a coimption of the 
French name dent de liony a lion's tooth, from the jagged 
edge of the petals. The dandelion has many likenesses 
among the sowthistles and the pretty brunstone-colonred 
hawkweeds, one of which makes a still prettier round 
puffed head than the dandelion clock itsell Dandelion 
roots are very wholesome. 

Though this chapter has been far too long, I must not 
leave off without giving one or two words to the last tribe 
of compound flowers, to which belong the lovely blue 
corn-flowers, and the hard sturdy knap-weed. These 
have their perfect florets in the middle, but their imperfect 
florets, instead of spreading out in rays, are really little 
flowers of exquisite form, only without the important 
parts. 

The knap-weed is in full blossom now in all waste 
places ; it has a beautiful imbricated calyx, fitting together 
with admirable closeness, like a suit of armour, each scale 
edged with a border of little brown hairsL It is a purple 
flower with a tough stem, very hard to gather. Sunwort 
is like a more delicate knap-weed, with leaves toothed like 
a saw. It grows in wet copses. 

Last of all the deep blue corn-flower, with its pretty 
head among the wheat, and its diadem of imperfect 
flowers. In Qermany the children of the villages some- 
times wear wreaths of this beautiful flower as crowns 
round their flaxen heads, when all the people of the 
place go, according to the good, old custom, to offer 
up their thanks in church for their safely gathered 
crops. 

To conclude, there are three different classes of com- 
pound flowers ; first, those which, like the dandelion. 



YIU SEPTEMBER FLOWERS 59 

have all their florets equal and perfect ; secondly, those 
which, like the daisy, have a ray of imperfect flowers 
and a disk of perfect ones ; thirdly, those which, like 
the knap-weed, have no ray, bnt a border of imperfect 
flowers. 



CHAPTER IX 

OCTOBER PLANTS 

Unseen Blossoms 

I WAS tkLnking wliat I could find to tell yon about 
flowers, or rather about the vegetable world, in October, 
wbich to one half of the globe is the season of decay, 
and when the bright tints worn by the woods are only 
the beauty of decline, like the gay colouring of sunset 
The trees do indeed wear "a sunshine of their own," 
but it is like the crown of glory on the head of the aged 
man. 

I was thinking, I say, what could be said about the 
vegetable world in October, when I recollected a story 
told of one of the most learned men who ever lived. He 
was sitting one day upon an open common, when he laid 
down his hand upon a piece of turf and said that in that 
small space which he thus covered there grew so many 
wonders that their study would occupy the longest life of 
the greatest philosopher. So I do not think we need 
despair of finding something marvellous even though the 
time of primroses and violets has gone by. 

Pray what do you consider to be the colour of a brick 
wall ? Red, to be sure ; all red together. And a tiled 



CHAP. IX OCTOBER PLANTS 61 

roof? Why, that is red too, only darker. Or a stone 
wall) That is gray, or reddish, or white, according to 
the colour of the stone. What can make you ask us such 
foolish questions ? And the bricks are all alike, I sup- 
pose f Oh yes, exactly, not a bit of difference between 
them. 

Well, there is a row of houses, all built at the same 
time, all with one door, and two windows downstairs, 
and three upstairs, all with slated roofs and chimneys, 
exactly the same. But do they all look just alike ? Let 
us see. Here is one with neat white muslin blind and 
white curtain peeping out^ and the door set open with a 
bar up against it, and a scrambling baby in a pink frock 
leaning out over, making its fanny little noises at the 
people passing by. And the next ? Here is a window 
with no comfortable curtains, but with great cracks, and 
dirty-looking bundles squeezed close up against it, as if 
the house was fall of disorder, and at the open door you 
may see a child with tangled hair, and a frock of one 
washed-out colour, dragging a poor little baby ill-temper- 
edly about. Or here is another very trim indeed, with 
bright scarlet geraniums making a blind to the down- 
stairs windows, and wooden boxes of mignonette before 
the upper ones. The next looks blank and dull, and see, 
" To be let *' is stuck up in the window. Here we have 
another, where the panes are very bright, and behind them 
there stand up oranges and curiously-cut pieces of parlia- 
ment gingerbread ; and in this one the upper window is 
open, but the curtains are drawn close, and there is a 
hush in the manner in which that young girl is lifting 
the latch of the door. There is sickness there, or perhaps 
it may be death. All that row of houses were alike when 
they were built, but are they alike now ? How fall of 



62 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

living souls are they, and all with their own joys, their 
own griefs, their own sins and struggles, all unknown to 
us, though they are our brethren and members of the 
same Body, but all known perfectly and thoroughly to 
the Father of us all. 

And if we know nothing of what is so like ajid so 
near to ourselves, how should we know anything of the 
hidden things of nature and of providence ? They seem 
put there to show us how dim our eyes are, and remind 
us that a time may come when we shall see more clearly. 

Now for the brick wall, the red wall, only it must not 
be a spick-and-span new wall, any more than the houses 
are quite new. The houses must get their inhabitants, 
and so must the bricks. 

Well, look close at the bricks, and say whether they 
are all alike, or whether they are red. To begin. First, 
here is a cloudy sort of splotch e>f gray, shaded off into 
edges of silvery white, which looks quite pure and bright 
against the little dark brown bristles that rise in front of 
it ; then comes another cloud, but this is yellow instead 
of white, and what a fanny shape it is, something like 
China and Hindostan in the map, with two or three little 
yellow islands round it 

The brick, its neighbour, is gayer still, for the yellow 
is in broader streaks, and the white rises in curious little 
shields or crests. Besides, there is a crack in the brick, 
upon which there rises a small round tuft of exquisite 
dark soft green, like a cushion. And see here how the 
yellow, brown, and white are all blended in one pattern, 
like the veining of marble. No one can say that one 
brick is exactly like another when they come to look into 
them, any more than that there is no difference between 
houses. 



IX OCTOBER PLANTS 63 

This strange painting on bricks and stones is one of 
the least understood and most curious things in creation, 
for when I have told you that these gray and yellow 
clouds are lichens, you know nothing more than their 
name, and I have little more to tell you. Great micro- 
scopes, and minds which are microscopes in comparison 
with ours, have been set to work on these little things, 
and can only make out enough to be sure that there are 
still greater wonders yet to be discovered. They have 
not indeed leaves, stem, and blossom, like the larger 
vegetables, but it is not less true that they are living, 
growing, seed-producing plants. 

As to seeing the seed, or even the parts that contain 
it, that is quite impossible without a very powerful 
magnifier. The parts containing it are very minute 
purses, usually ranged under the raised edge of the 
yellow crust, or under the white shield; each bag is 
fall of little cells, and each cell is filled with seeds so 
small that not only the eye cannot see them, but the 
touch cannot discover them, and yet they have life within 
them, life which wants nothing but moisture to make it 
grow and lay the foundation for farther and better 
developed life. 

Floating about in the air, these imperceptible seeds 
settle on stone, on wood, on the bark of trees ; wherever 
they can find a cranny, a cranny that is large enough for 
them, not what our eye or even our touch would call a 
cranny. 

What they come to a good deal depends upon the 
substance upon which they grow, for the bounds between 
the different species have not been clearly made out. 
These gray-and-white ones are called liverworts; there 
are, besides, the gray crusty ones, which give the hoary 



64 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

appearance to the bark of the old oak tree, and the long 
gray branching one that hangs down stiff and crackling 
from the boughs, a sort of winter foliage ; its purses are in 
little globes at the end of each branch, and it is properly 
called lungwort. It is the Hverwort and the lungwort 
that are so lusefal to the little birds in building their 
nests; the neat goldfinch and chaffinch work them in 
with moss and hair and gossamer cobwebs, like Httle felt- 
makers, and the clever long-tailed tit covers her dome- 
shaped nursery with them, so as to make it so like in 
colour to the gray branches around, that it may have a 
good chance of escaping the view of the thievish mouse 
and magpie, or still more thievish birds'-nesting boy. 

In the midst of the heath grows a wiry, white-branched 
Hchen, the same which in Lapland is called reindeer 
moss, and which those useful creatures dig out far beneath 
the snow. If you are very fortunate you may perhaps 
find the beautiful cup lichen, which raises among its crisp 
gray curling leaves a Httle cup like a fairy's wineglass, 
edged with crimson spots. Or there is an odd brownish 
gray one with branches and a marbled pattern, which 
the Canadians call tripe de roche, and which served Sir 
John Franklin and his companions for food in their great 
distress during their journey of discovery in North 
America. 

I said the lichens prepared the way for other vegeta- 
tion, and it is by their decay they become a sort of mould, 
into which mosses and all the mushroom tribe may insert 
their tiny roots. The brown bristles upon our bricks are 
the beginning of moss, and the green tuft is a collection 
of small plants of moss, each perfectly arranged, like the 
plants of larger organisation. 

See, each Httle moss plant has a number of exquisite 



IX OCTOBER PLANTS 65 

thready green leaves spreading out round its taper tliread 
of a stem, like the perfect model of a lily plant, but the 
stem, instead of ending in blossoms, has a sort of brown 
cap or purse at the summit, sometimes round, sometimes 
peaked, sometimes brown, and sometimes green. Under 
this cap is a purse witli invisible seeds. The cap either 
splits at Hie side or fells of^ and everywhere do these 
seeds grow in beds containing myriads of tiny perfect 
moss trees at the root of the oak or the beech, in the 
crannies between tile and tile, along the borders of neglected 
walks, on the sides of rocks, wherever they can find the 
modicum of nourishment which they need for their little 
spark of life. 

Though mosses are so common, people have been con- 
tent to call all the kinds moss, without finding English 
names for the different sorts ; but perhaps you will think 
it as well to be able to tell one from the other, so I will 
mixtion one or two Latin names. 

There is one graceful, soft, bright light green kind, 
like a fern leaf, twice pinnate, and its shape too elegant 
to describe, growing on banks and under the roots of 
trees, the moss we chiefly delight in, and can pull out in 
soft springy handfiils, for the making of moss -baskets, 
the packing of flowers, or the filling of heaupots with 
snowdrops and hepaticas reposing on the green bed. 
What a fresh smell comes with it ! of pure earth, as we 
pull it out from the great green cushion where it grows, 
and where we could hardly make a hole, pull away as 
much as we wilL I rather think this moss is that most 
in esteem for lining the cradle of the wren and hedge- 
sparrow, though they don't call it by the name I must 
give you for it — the proliferous Hypnum, proliferous, 
because it grows in such quantities. Its long threadlike 

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IX OCTOBER PLANTS 67 

one into Hie other, and have their capsules in large round 
brown heads at the end of the stems. They are called 
fox-taalS) and always put me in mind of the fresh air of 
the mountains. These, like the swan's-neck, prepare the 
way for turning wet marsh into firm ground, for they 
begin to bind it and make it less watery, and in time fit 
to bear more useful plants. The imseen blossoms seem 
meant to prepare the way for others — the lichens. 

The lichen is Hie last vestige of vegetable life, and also 
the first Even in the arctic regions it contrives to grow 
upon the snow, and to cover it with a field of dazzling 
crimson, which has often amazed the northern traveller; 
it is the first upon the rock, the first to find out that 
man's hand is neglecting the constant rubbing and care 
that alone can keep off these most subtle and minute of 
created things. On the lichen feeds the moss; in the 
soft damp nests formed by decaying moss other seeds 
germinate ; the chickweed, the tiny speedwell, the stone 
crop, insert their roots and find nourishment till nature, 
or rather nature's Master, has brought life out of death, 
beauty and vigour out of rottenness and decay. 

Nay, perhaps to speak more truly, it is flesh alone that 
really corrupts ; in the vegetable world, which partakes 
not equally of our doom of sin, decay is not so much real 
decay as a change of life. Before the last leaves have 
died away on the aged oak the rotten wood has become a 
whole garden of green flourishing plants, gathering round 
it, embracing it, and rendering its last years as lovely, 
though not perhaps as noble, as its prime. 



CHAPTER X 

NOVEMBER PLAINTS 

Ferm 

We must still keep to the flowerless plants, and there are 
many of them which are exceedingly beautiful and full of 
interest. 

First of these are the ferns, pretty green waving plants, 
which seem to be aU leaf and nothing else ; but these 
leaves, as they are commonly called, have not the some 
properties as those of the plants whose structure is visible, 
and botanists therefore named them fronds. Look under 
some high hedge or sheltered bank, and there you will 
find a profusion of long dark green shining leaves of a 
very firm leathery texture and with tough black stalks. 
This is the fern called hart's-tongue, and it is at this time 
in full blossom, if the brown seed-cases which it possesses 
may be called blossoms. 

See here, on the under side of the leaf or frond, are 
a number of pale, brown, raised ridges, ranged with the 
utmost regularity along the veins of the frond, a long one 
and a short one alternately, and the brown colour con- 
trasting very prettily with the green of the leaf. These 
brown ridges are cases ; after a time they swell and burst, 



CHAP. X NOVEMBER PLANTS 69 

diHfilowng a number of yery tmy, round grains, which 
perhaps you mi^t think were the seeda, but no such 
things they are only the purses that the flfeeds are in ; and 
if we could look at them with such magnifying eyes as 
the dragon-fly wears we should see that they are shaped 
a good deal like an ancient hehnet, and that they contain 
a multitude of seeds smaller and finer than dust If you 
want a multiplication sum, you may find out how many 
seeds one hart's-tongue plant mi^t bear in a year, reckon- 
ing each purse to contain fifty seeds* each ndge four thou- 
sand fire hundred purses, each frond eighty ridges, and 
each root to produce twelve fronds ! I only wonder what 
becomes of all that do not grow, and why the world is 
not one wood of hart's-tongue. 

So small are the seeds that gathering them is a proverb 
fiir what is impossible; and, as we teU little children that if 
they can put salt on a bird's taQ they can catch it^ so it is 
another saying that by gathering fern seed you may make 
yourself invisible, both being what nobody has ever done. 

The scaly hart's-tongue grows on old walls ; its fronds 
are small and short, thickly covered with brown scales at 
the back, and of a curious zigzag form. They shrivel up 
to nothing without moisture, but spread out^ broad and 
polished, as soon as a shower has refreshed them. 

The handsomest kind of English fern is the taU flower- 
ing fern which our Saxon ancestors named Osmond, after 
one of the titles of Thor, their god of thunder. Per- 
haps it raised its high, firm, royal-looking fronds round 
his rude stone altars out fiir away on the moorland wastes, 
for it is chiefly found growing on the damp, boggy, -stony 
moors, which seem to act like sponges to catch the water 
of the clouds and disperse it in streams and rivers from 
among the hills. 



70 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

Though it is called the flowenng fern the brown, 
granular appearance which forms a spike at the top of the 
frond is not really the blossom, it is only formed by 
the edges of the leaflets being curled in over the aknost 
invisible ridge of purses. 

In the gnarled heads of old pollards, in crevices of 
stone walls, or on the sides of quarries, you may often see 
the polypody, its green frond deeply divided into leaflets, 
the centre of those on one side coming just opposite to the 
division of those on the other. Here the purses are col- 
lected together in little round golden dots ranged regu- 
larly along the back of the leaflets. I like the polypody, 
in spite of its ugly, half Greek, half English name, which 
means many feet ; it is one of those cheerful, humble 
things that seems to have a kindness for what is vener- 
able and excellent even in decay. It hangs round the 
aged hollow tree, and feathers up the broken arch of the 
ruined chapel, through autumn and winter, just as we 
should cheerfully, though soberly, hold fast to the old 
bulwarks of our faith and of our law, and do our best to 
adorn them by our adherence, though some may tell us 
that their bright summer day is gone and past and there 
are only winter storms to come. 

Another fern which loves to deck the ruined wall, and 
which I flrst learnt to know among the old tombstones in 
the churchyard, is the black maiden-hair, a pretty little 
plant, its stalk jet black and tough as wire, the round 
leaflets arranged in pairs, with clusters of little black 
purses in round dots upon their backs. The roots, too, 
are very hard and black, and squeeze in perfectly flat 
between stones and bricks in the most determined way. 

The black spleenwort and rue -leafed spleenwort are 
also often to be found with fronds of a very pretty 



X NOVEMBER PLANTS 71 

shape, and the blossoms spread over the back in elegant 
patterns. 

Another kind, the sea spleenwort, grows in hollows 
of rocks refreshed by the sea breeze; but the most 
elegant of aU the race of spleenwort is the queen of ferns, 
the exquisite lady-fern. Her frond is tall and slender, 
delicately green, and beautifully cut into little scalloped 
and pointed side wings with brown spots of fruit at the 
back. My Lady -Fern is too choice and elegant to be 
very common ; her bower is usually the shady, rocky 
woodland glen, under old gnarled trees, and by the side of 
rushing streams, and so tender is she, that it is nearly 
impossible to gather and carry her home without her 
withering. 

" Where the copsewood is the greenest, 
Where the fountains glisten sheenest, 
Where the morning dew lies longest, 
There the lady-fern grows strongest" 

Worthy to be handmaids to this dainty lady are the 
far more common, though scarcely less graceful, shield- 
ferns, so called because they have a tiny brown shield 
whicli shuts over the assemblage of small helmets in their 
multitudinous little dots of blossom. In early spring we 
see them on the sides of dry banks or under hedges, push- 
ing up their fronds, doubled in half, folded up tight, and 
covered with brown hair, looking like some rough cater- 
pillar. As they grow on the fronds, with their lower part 
unfolded and the upper rolled up in a graceful spiral line, 
they put us in mind of a shepherd's crook, or still more 
of a bishop's pastoral staff. And when they unfold how 
beautiful they are ! That long, gracefully swelling, bend- 
ing, tapering, plumy form, like the feather in some royal 
cap of state, so fair in the outline of the whole, and still 



72 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

lovelier when examined closely, little plumes parting ont 
on each side of the stalk, and each of these bearing such 
beautifully cut little leaflets, so regular in their irregu- 
larity, each with one lobe pointed and another swellii^, 
and a little sharp peak at the end of each. No one that 
has not tried can tell the pleasure there is in searching 
out the beauty of forms of one piece of shield-fern, and 
though all have this general character, yet they are so 
infinitely varied that you will hardly find three plants 
which have their leaflets exactly of the same shape. One 
is only inclined to ask, " How can things be so beautiful V* 
And look at the whole plant, with some fronds standing 
up straight, some bending over and showing the Httle 
brown specks of fructification, the shepherd's crooks un- 
folding themselves, and the rough caterpillars round the 
root, all spreading out on some sweet shady spring bank, 
and perhaps feathering over a bunch of primroses or of 
violets. Yes, honour to the shield-fern, in its quiet 
hedgerow nest, with the glowworm sheltering under its 
wavy bower, and the robin and linnet nestling in the long 
grass behind its screen ; it is one of those beauteous things 
that most aid to make spring fair and lovely and yet are 
least regarded. 

Honour too, to the brake or bracken in its woodland 
or moorland haunt, spreading its wings like branched 
fronds on their tall stems, the covert where the timid 
fawn lies watching for its mother, and where the gray 
rabbit sits with its broad ears and large eyes turned heed- 
folly about to watch for the first token of danger. It is 
difficult to find the seed-bearing part of the brake, as it is 
not, as usual, in dots at the back of the frond, but the 
margin of the leaf is turned over like a hem, and the 
purses are packed safely away imder this protecting edge. 



X NOVEMBER PLANTS 73 

Its Latin name means the eagle-fern, perhaps because it 
is like the outspread wing of an eagle, but it is also said 
to be because, cut the stalk in two where you will, you 
may always find a dark mark in the shape of a spread 
eagle, or as some say, of an oak tree. 

It grows to a great height in damp woody places, but 
is short and small on open commons, and as it turns 
brown early in the year, before the heather and dwarf- 
furze are in blossom, its brown tints blend with their 
purple and yellow, and give a beautiful colouring to the 
sides of mountains. I remember once seeing one of the 
hills on the north coast of Somersetshire, early in August, 
in the full glow of the heath and furze blossom contrast- 
ing and mixing with the brown brake, and with a rain- 
bow standing across it, so that the colours of the hill^ 
seen through the rainbow tints, were indescribably beau- 
tiful, and like nothing I have ever seen except those 
many-coloured specimens of copper ore called by collectors 
peacock ores. 

The bracken is the most useful of all the British ferns ; 
it is used as litter for cattle, and as its ashes contain a 
good deal of potash, they are used in making glass. In 
the Forest of Deane these ashes are rolled up in baUs with 
clay, and serve for home-made soap. 

There is a very curious autumn fern called blechnum, 
or hard-fern, which has two sorts of £ronds, one bearing 
blossom, the other, as far as we can see, useless. It 
grows in the same kind of places as the hart's-tongue ; the 
barren leaves are broad and only moderately scalloped at 
the edges, the fertile ones, the very skeletons of leaves, 
almost all the green cut away, looking as if it had been 
eaten by caterpillars, tall, thin, starved, and curly, both 
together very much like the monsters that little boys 



74 THE HERB OP THE FIELD CHAP. 

sometimes draw on their slates to represent Englishmen 
and Frenchmen, one all breadth and strength and solidity, 
the other tapered and cut away to nothing. 

The adders-tongue has its fertile parts also on a separate 
leaf, which is long and narrow, but this grows in wet 
boggy places, and is not very common, so that I doubt 
whether you will be able to find it. 

The rock-brake, or mountain parsley, is a very pretty 
kind, which grows on the gray stone walls, on the Cum- 
berland and Westmoreland hills ; the barren leaves are 
very elegantly cut, like panley, and the fertile ones 
small and covered at the back with a pattern of pale 
brown. 

The best place for seeing ferns is in rocky woods, near 
streams, for though they do grow in hedgerows and 
woods in more fertile places, it is by no means as well, 
or as luxuriantly. Their proper home is on the rugged 
side of some steep bank of rock, nodding over some clear, 
dashing mountain stream, which keeps them ever damp 
with its spray, hanging almost into the waterfall, and 
clinging to huge bare stones which the foot of man has 
never trod. High up the hart^s-tongue stretches out its 
tall clusters of dark shining leaves, contrasting with the 
sober rock ; on the bank the Osmond raises its high and 
royal head ; the polypody and the little black maiden- 
hair creep about in the crevices of the ivy and moss- 
grown stones ; while between them, and in their clefts and 
crannies, the lady-fern, and aU her shield-bearing attend- 
ants, are feathering themselves up in the pride of their 
beauty, rejoicing in the pure fresh air and delicious shade. 
It is a strange and solemn thought that there is so much 
wondrous beauty in this world that man neither sees nor 
regards. It makes us wonder whether the angels see it 



X NOVEMBER PLANTS 75 

and manrel at our careleaBneBs of the fedr gifts wbicli have 
been bestowed on n& 

On the opposite side of the world ferns are more im- 
portant than they are here, and in South America they 
axe actual trees, hardly to be distinguished in the appear- 
ance of their foliage from palm trees themselves ; but these 
wonderful tree ferns seem peculiar to that strange half of 
the world, where everything is contrary to what we see 
it here. The fern root was once the chief food of the 
natives of New Zealand. 

Yet £ems and mosses, and those odd creeping things 
— dub mosses, which we find in peaty bogs, have done 
wonders for us here, and things which we can by no 
means understand. 

Peat^ as those see for themselves who are used to a 
peat fire, who have helped to pile up the stacks to dry, 
and who think a wood or coal fire far less agreeable, con- 
sists of decayed moss and other vegetable matter, appar- 
ently matted and pressed together. So it is in the great 
Ineh bog9, which the people love so well, that they say 
that the finest country looks lone and cold without a bit 
of a bog in it 

Far down this peat is black and hard, and it is be- 
lieved by geologists that, £rom having been subjected to 
very hard pressure as well as to the action of fire, it has 
in the course of thousands of years become coal I There is 
a marvellous notion ! but what makes it seem to be true, 
and what indeed probably put it into the heads of these 
searchers into the hidden things of the earth is, that it is 
not uncommon to find impressed upon the surfeu^ of a 
piece of coal the exact form of a fern lea^ or of a piece of 
some large moss like the print of a seal I remember 
when I used to have a great desire to find one of these 



76 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. X 

fern leaf pieces, and being once caught in tlie coal-hole 
in the midst of a search ; but I never found one, and I 
would not recommend you to foUow my example, as I 
believe the colliers always pick out these pieces and sell 
them as curiosities ; but if you ever meet with a collection 
of minerals you will probably see one of these curious 
impressions. 

What makes it stiU more wonderful is that the ferns 
are not such as grow in England, but are of the large 
handsome kinds which are now only seen growing in 
tropical countries, so that it is thought this part of the 
globe must once have been much hotter than at present. 
Or rather, we may perceive how very little we know 
about the matter at all, and that every fresh thing we 
learn is but like a window opening to show an immense 
field far beyond, in every direction, which we can never 
explore thoroughly. 

" Canst thou by searching find out God ? " Searching 
to the utmost will not enable us to find out the nearest of 
His works, and yet He, the Maker of all, has made us 
know more of Himself than all our searching can find out 
respecting one of the golden dots on a fern lea£ 



CHAPTER XI 

DECEMBER FLOWERS 

Christmas Evergreens 

December is come, and Advent with it, warning us to 
look forward to Christmas, with all its mixture of solemn 
and joyful thoughts, of seriousness and mirth. 

And as the animal world had its share in the joy of 
the first Christmas season, when the ox and the ass wel- 
comed their Maker as their guest in their cavemed stable, 
when he first was despised and rejected of men, so the 
y^table world of creation has had its invitation to join 
with Christians in the bright greetings of His coming 
year by year. " The glory of Lebanon shall come unto 
me, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to 
beautify the place of my sanctuary ; and I will make the 
place of my feet glorious." 

Many a tree does its part in making the sanctuary 
glorious with carved work : the cedar in southern countries, 
and the oak in our own, have especially this honour, but 
this is with their solid wood, the beam and the timber. 
In the southern hemisphere, where of course the same 
Christmas as ours is kept, but where the 25 th of December 
is a long, bright summer's day, like what St John the 



78 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

Baptist's is here, there are wreaths of gay flowers to dress 
the churches; and in flowery Mexico the whole space 
round the altar is a very wood of fragrant orange trees 
and roses. 

"We so prize and love our plant of sacred joy that its 
winter title is Christmas, and at all times it is known as 
holly, or holy, a little altered, just as holy-day has become 
changed into holiday. For its proper name is holm, and 
some people make the distinction of calling that holm 
which has no berries. 

Who does not know the pleasure of setting out on 
Christmas Eve with knife and basket to bring home the 
bright prickly boughs, the choosing and picking, the 
jumping and climbing for the best pieces, with the 
thickest necklaces of coral beads wound round and round 
them ? But mind one thing on this merry expedition, 
do not break and tear the trees, do as you would if their 
master was looking at you, for remember it is no way of 
doii^ God honour to take what is not lawfully permitted. 

What pleasure in carrying it home ! admiring at every 
step the thick clustered berries, and the dark glossy 
leaves, so pinched up and tapered off into their strong 
solid spines ; what pleasure in showing it to mother, and 
in sticking it wherever it will go, over the fire-place, 
everywhere about the dresser, and especially in the win- 
dow, to peep out, as it were, to say to every passer-by, 
*' Christmas ! Christmas is come !" Is it not a Christmas 
carol in itself ? 

Then there is the taking it to school, and hoping that 
the mistress has not had more brought to her already than 
will cover all the bonnet pegs. Where the bonnets are 
to go nobody knows or cares just at present, places for 
holly are all that is wanted. Then there is the sending 



XI DECEMBER FLOWERS 79 

it into the next town, for some sister or cousin or annt 
who cannot get any holly for herself and would hardly 
know Chnstmas without it And perhaps some children 
who read this chapter may have a greater pleasure still ; 
perhaps they may have been chosen to help in the solemn 
work of beautifying the place of the sanctuary, of dressing 
the church with the beautiful green bougha Highly 
honoured children, take care ; remember that this is work 
fit for angels, and that those who share in it should be as 
like angels as they may while still dwelling upon eartL 

You too, who are not called on to take part in this 
work, remember that you in your own places may still be 
beautifying the sanctuary, growing up as the young plants, 
and bearing fruits of righteousness, fit for the holy trees 
which the Lord hath planted in His own garden to form 
His crown of rejoicing at the last day. 

Those thorns and red berries have a very solemn 
meaning, for they are to remind us of our blessed Lord's 
crown of thorns, and of the thick, heavy drops of precious 
Blood that He shed for our sake, for had not those drops 
been poured out Christmas would have had no joy or 
mirth for us. They must remind us, too, as I said before, 
of the fruits which are required from us, of the suffering 
that comes before glory, and of the hedge of thorns and 
pricks which meets the sinful man. Noble tree, how 
many deep lessons, and how much of cheerfulness, has our 
^laker implanted in it I 

One more lesson still, for you may observe in an old 
holly bush, growing in a good damp soil, never dipped, 
and not liable to be eaten by cattle, that the leaves, 
especially near the top, cease to arm themselves with 
prickles, and only have one sharp dart at the point So 
if we have any sharpness or evil tempers in our youth, 



80 THE HERB OF THE FIELD chap. 

we musty as we grow older and nearer heaven, smootli 
them gradnallj away, 



Till fhe smooth temper of our age should be 
Like the high leaves upon the holly tree." 



The holly tree blossoms about May, and has a small 
white flower in dusters round the little boughs, with four 
a^mftTia and four pistils, very short and all joined to- 
gether. These four pistils become four seeds, each with 
a separate cell, within the scarlet jacket of the berry. A 
young hoUy plant is yery pretty when it first comes up, 
with a yery small brown leaf on each side of the little 
stem, with all their little spears standing boldly out on 
all aides still too soft to prick at alL 

Sometimes holly is found with yellow berries, and 
sometimes the leaves are vari^ated, with a white trim- 
ming all round the leaf These are prettiest at the time 
of the midsummer shoot^ when the young white leaves 
are quite pink. Or there is a vari^ated sort in shrub- 
beries, with the whole surface of the leaf bristling with 
little spines like a sea-porcupine^ 

After all, none of these new fashions are equal to the 
noble old holly tree, rising up with the dark green leaves 
80 proudly in the midst of the heathy wood, casting such 
a shade around, and affording such a shelter dose to the 
trunk. Or a tail, clipped holly hedge, a very wall f ot 
doseness, far higher than garden wall ever was built, and 
giving one a notion of breadth, firmness, shelter, and 
resoluteness in defending its mastei^s property. 

The most fiunous holly hedge that ever existed was at 
Says Court, the house of Mr. Evdyn, a very excellent 
man, who lived in the time of Charles XL, and who 
delisted in trees with aU his heart His hedge had a 



XI DECEMBER FLOWERS 81 

great misfortune, for when the Emperor Peter the Qreat 
of Bnssia came to England to learn ehipboilding Mr. 
Evelyn was desired to lend him his house at Says Court, 
and Peter, who had not learnt in his own country to take 
much care of other people's property, not only put the 
house in great disorder and spoilt the furniture, but chose 
for his fayourite amusement to be driven in a wheel- 
barrow through the midst of the fsunous holly hedge. I 
wonder why he could have chosen such a sport ? Perhaps 
it was for the sake of mischief or perhaps it put him in 
mind of storming a town, for I am sure it must have been 
almost as disagreeable. People will do things for play at 
which they would grumble finely if they were obliged to 
do them. 

The holly tree has kept us a long time, and we must 
go on to its companion evergreens. I believe the reason 
evergreens do not lose their leaves in autumn is, that the 
sap does not cease to flow into the foot-stalks tiU the next 
summer, after the young leaves have budded forth, so 
that the stems are never left bare. You may observe, 
too, how thick and leathery is the texture of the hoUy 
lea^ so thick that the ribs are hardly visible, but seem 
covered with a double case, the dark green upper skin 
and the pale green lining. The ribs, though they appear 
so little, are very firm and strong, and survive all the rest 
of the leai, as does the hard homy border which edges the 
leaf and forms the spines. You may see the form 
in the skeletons of last year's leaves under the holly 
tree. 

Mistletoe, curious thing, is the next companion of hoUy. 
As to its name, that is a diflScult question. Missel is said 
to mean to soil, and the plant to be so called because its 
berries soil the claws of the missel-thrushes ; but then, 

G 



82 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

on the other hand, those learned in birds say that the 
thrush is so called because it soils its toes with the berries, 
and so I suppose the missel-toe and missel-thrushes must 
settle as they can which is the original owner of the 
name. 

Mistletoe has come to a Christian use at last, though 
every one who has read a page of English history knows 
what a part it used to play in the old days of the Druids. 
I daresay you are tired of the old story of the Archdruid 
climbing up the oak tree with his golden knife, and the 
others catching the mistletoe in the white doth below. 
The chief wonder is where they found it on an oak tree, 
for in all England in these days there is only one piece 
known to be so growing. Did they use it all up, or was 
it only its rarity that made it so precious ? 

In our days it grows on thorns and apple trees, serving 
them instead of their own leaves in winter, on poplars 
and limes, and on many other kinds of trees. It roots 
itself in their branches, and feeds on their sap instead of 
drawing its own £rom the eartL Plants growing in this 
manner are called parasites. It has a bushy stem, often 
forked, of the same pale, yellowish green, or greenish 
yellow, as the round hard leaves. The blossoms are of 
the same colour, and the stamens and pistils not only 
grow in different flowers, but on different plants ; some 
plants having four stamens in each of their blossoms, and 
others two pistils in each of theirs. This explains why 
some pieces of mistletoe have no berries, since, as you 
know, stamens can never become seeds. The berries are 
white, about the size of a currant, and contain two seeds, 
in the midst of a quantity of very sticky pulp. 

In some places the beautiful finiit of the skewerwood, 
or spindle tree, is used with the holly and mistletoe. It is 



XI DECEMBER FLOWERS 83 

extremely pretty, consisting of five round, pink purses, all 
joined together in the middle, and with a cleft in the 
centre of each side, which opens and shows a seed en- 
closed in a brilliant dark orange, wrinkled skin, contrast- 
ing with the bright pink outside. Though pink and 
orange certainly would look frightful together in our bad 
imitated painting, yet in nature's own exquisite colouring 
nothing can be more lovely. The blossom is nothing like 
so pretty as the fruit, it is small and green, and belongs 
to the great order of pentagon flowers, as indeed might 
be guessed from the five-cleft form of its beautiful purses. 
The leaf is not evergreen, and has long ago departed ; 
the wood is very hard, and is used for spindles and 
skewers. 

Now for ivy, graceful ivy, with its dark green leaves 
of such multitudes of different forms. Only try to find 
two plants with their leaves alike. Some have three 
points, some again five, spreading out like fingers ; some 
even seven, with perhaps a little excrescence on each side 
doee to the stalk, as if it wanted to grow out into two 
more ; some have obtuse angles, and a broad space of 
leaf; others have long pointed fingers cut away into 
peaks, flounced and furbelowed here and there. If the 
ivy plant is sick, or has got into poor ground, it does not 
wither and pine, not it, but it paints its face gayer than 
ever, and comes out in some new freak, either with bright 
red leaves and yellow veins or with yellow leaves and 
red veins ; not a pining green and yellow melancholy, but 
aU glowing and gay, as if resolved to put a good face on 
the matter and not own that it is uncomfortable. It is 
just in the same way that it tries to persuade the trees 
that they are leafy and green instead of being old and 
dry and dead. It is a pleasant thing to make a collection 



84 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

of ivy leaves of different forma A cheerful thing it is, 
winter and summer, all alike, catching the light on its 
dark glistening leaves, so that they glance like a stream 
of white sunshine all down the trunk of the tree. 

In every shady place the ivy will grow ; the beech tree 
is the only one which does not foster it. It creeps along 
the ground, stretching out long green feelers, with tender 
little leaves, tiU it finds a tree or a wall to fasten itself 
upon. Its fastenings are very curious; they are little, 
soft, short fibres, like a caterpillar's feet^ or like a short, 
rough beard. They are not roots, for the ivy has its own 
root in the ground, and lives on its own resources, instead 
of sucking the sap of the tree, though perhaps they may 
imbibe the moisture of the rain and dew. As the ivy 
grows older the lower stems become actually wood, bark 
without and yellow solid wood within, sometimes growing 
so large that boxes, and even a small work-table, have 
been made of themu These large woody stems generally 
cease to have fibres, though I have seen one so thickly 
overgrown with them, close, rough, and brown, that it 
looked like some shaggy animal climbing up the tree. It 
is the creeping, clinging shoots that bear the curiously- 
lobed leaves which never have any blossoma It is not 
till they have reached the top of the wall, or the large 
branches of the tree, and have established a. good hold on 
them, that they begin to throw out branches, bending 
downwards, without beards, and with leaves heart-shaped, 
or round, instead of peaked and fingered, only resembling 
the lower ones in the dark colour, solid texture, and the 
numerous principal veins, all rising at once from the long 
footstalk. 

At the end of these upper branches there form, towards 
the autumn, round heads of blossoms, each upon a little 



XI DECEMBER FLOWERS 86 

green stalk with a tiny calyx of five black teeth, support- 
ing five smaU green, spreading petals, within which grow 
five stamens, surrounding a round yellow germ, which 
bears a short style and no stigma. 

As the blossom of the ivy does not come out till 
October the black berries are hardly ripe till after Christ- 
mas ; they hang on for a long time, and are the great 
storehouse of the birds in the spring, when all the autumn 
berries are gone. 

This bushy, tangled, blossoming, round-leaved part of 
the ivy is indeed precious to the birds, for it is their 
winter dwelling-house as well as their granary. Hear 
what a chirping and scolding of sparrows proceeds from 
it, as if all the rogues were chattering at once, like a set 
of idle children ; and here they come, tumbling out, 
flapping their wings, rolling about in the air, screaming 
and chattering, far too angry to think where they are 
going till suddenly they find themselves falling, they put 
their wings to their right use, perch on some tree, cock 
up their tails, give a self-satisfied twitter, and there is an 
end of the quarrel. 

How often the blackbird comes rushing out, in a terrible 
fright, giving a loud screaming twit, twit, twit, just as if 
for the sake, foolish fellow, of telling where his nest with 
the green muddy-looking eggs is to be found. What a 
notion of snugness, and dignified great eyes, perfectly at 
home, is conveyed by the saying, "An owl in an ivy 
bush I" And how many children are there who do not 
love the very brown back of that charming book which 
begins, "In a hole, which time had made, in a wall, 
covered with ivy, a pair of redbreasts had built their 
nest," and who look at every ivied waU as the home of 
Robin, Dicky, Flapsy, and Pecksy ? 



86 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP, xi 



Old rains are the eEpecud place for Itt, wliidi hangB 
OTS the wall, tiring to ehroiid and cheer its decar, streldi- 
ing itB delicate yoong shootB gnoefoUT along the shafis 
and columns^ as if to cots them with those exqniaite 
mouldings and fonns isi nature which pot to shame the 
best that man can aooomplish. 

Another oi our prettr Clhiistmas bernes is the knee- 
hofan or bntcherVhtoom, a low jdant which grows on 
heaths. It has a dark gieai>hranched stem, bearing a 
nnmbo' of egg-shajted ereigreen leaxes^ each terminating 
in a Tezy sharp pnckle^ On these kaTes are perched the 
TOT small green blosBoms^ stemless^ and sitting on the 
kaTBs. Some plants hare thiee-^tam^ied flowers^ othen 
flowers with a single pistiL which br the wintu* bemmes 
a large roond berry, isi a beantifnl waxen-koking red. 
silting in great dignity on its dark pc>inlcd leaf. 



CHAPTEE XII 

JANUARY PLANTS 

Needle trees 

Here we come to our walls and ramparts ; I do not mean 
the wooden waUs of old England, but tlie ramparts of the 
whole world, against a very sharp-cutting enemy, who 
wears a beautiful thick white sparkling coat, brings with 
him a quantity of sharp little spears and diamond weapons, 
and perhaps this very New Year's Day may be driving 
pins and needles into your fingers and toes, and pinching 
your nose till it is fast turning into a purple button, to 
say nothing of heaving carrots and turnips out of the 
ground with fairy levers, of splitting lumps of chalk into 
flakes, and of spreading a marble surface over the pond. 

Ah, you know now that I mean the gentleman whom 
the ancients used to call boreas, or north wind, but whom 
we know by the less grand and more homely name of 
Jack Frost ! 

After all we hardly like to call Jack Frost an enemy 
when he comes so pleasantly to clear away the dark heavy 
mist, clean up the muddy roads, brighten everything, 
spread his beautiful tracery on the window-pane, and 
make such delightful slides on all the pool& Yes, he is a 



88 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

pleasant visitor for weU-dothed, healthy, active people ; 
but that is thanks to these ramparts, these guards which 
I spoke of^ who let no more of his battalions come through 
them than is good for us, but stand boldly up to keep 
him out with a close phalanx of spear points as sharp as 
his own. 

Between the rest of the world and Jack Frosf s domains, 
whether in his own especial kingdom, the North Pole, or 
in his scattered fortresses, the mountain tops, where he 
has reigned alone since the beginning of the world, there 
stands a whole army of warriors, their tall, straight, lofty 
heads pointing up to the sky, their many arms bending 
round on all sides, and bearing more spears and spikes 
and daggers than ever the hundred-armed giant we hear 
of in old fables. 

Countless are those tall, slender guards, in their gar- 
ments of dark green and silver; bold, honest, and true 
they are, scarce bending their heads to many a fierce wild 
attack and storm of their besieger. General Frost, and 
though not exactly "each stepping where his comrade 
stood," yet if one does crash and give way beneath some 
sudden blast or some lightning-bolt, holding him up and 
supporting him for years upon years on their strong 
faithful arms, even perhaps till his sons have grown old 
enough to take his place in the ranka 

They bear the whole weight of the tremendous ava- 
lanche of the Swiss mountain, and by their multitude and 
firmness stop it from descending upon the vOlage and 
crushing house and inhabitant beneath it ; and they may 
weU guard the house, for they themselves have a large 
share in its building. Nay, even though cut down and 
carried far from their native homes, they guard our 
thresholds and support our roofs still 



Xir JANUARY PLANTS 89 

Has this been a long riddle, and have you not found 
out who these brave defenders are ? Well, I will help 
you to their name. At their head there is the stately and 
highly -honoured cedar ; the Himalayan sentinels, who 
wear scaly green armour, are called Araucaria Imbricata ; 
the main body of warriors in America, Norway, and 
Switzerland are the pines; and where we see them in 
comparatively fewer numbers, where they are less needed, 
we call them firs. It is said that in Florence, where these 
shields from the cold blasts of the Apennines have been 
cut down, it has become so much colder that many tender 
plants have ceased to grow there. 

We have very Uttle idea, from such as we see here, 
whether singly or in plantations, of what the real grenadier 
guards are, the great pine forests of America and Norway, 
with their dark depths and solemn stillness ; indeed, 
we are so far removed from the enemy's borders that 
Providence has not made one pine native to England, 
and there is only one British sort, namely, the Scottish 
fir. 

However, we see enough of them in plantations to 
perceive how beautifully they are constructed for their 
object. Look at the silver fir, the commonest kind, a 
Norwegian species, and see its tall spring head, growing 
by straight shoots, one perpendicular, the others, perhaps 
three in number, spreading out in different directions, aU 
slight, and with their dark needle-leaves following their 
direction, and keeping to them, close and snug, so as to 
afford no opportunity to the wind to get hold of them 
and tear them off 

If the fir was not evergreen it would not so keep back 
the forces of winter ; if its leaves were broader, like those 
of the laurel, they would flutter in the wind and be torn 



90 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

off ; if its head was not so tapering so as to be yielding 
towards the top, it conld never bear the force of the 
storm, but would break short ofL Therefore each succes- 
sive year, as it puts out the one upper shoot, it strengthens 
all those that grow beneath it, and each tier of branches 
also put out a star of shoots at their extremities, so that 
it is thicker and stronger in the lower part 

It is likely, too, that these lower branches will have a 
considerable weight of snow to bear, since they do not let 
it faU through them like the leafless boughs of deciduous 
shrubs. Therefore — but this you can only see in a very 
large fir tree, such as we do not often find here — they 
grow in a graceful bending form, sweeping down fix)m 
the main stem, spreading out backs ridged like the roof 
of a house, and arched to give them strength to bear the 
snow, always tapering downwards so as to let it fall off 
gradually, and thereby avoiding being crushed under it 
The wood, too, is extremely hard in these branches, as 
any carpenter or woodman will teU you, and yet such is 
the we^ht of these long sweeping bows that comparatively 
a slight blow on the upper part near the trunk will snap 
them off. 

The fir tree, too, takes considerable care of its seeds, 
since they have to grow up in such inclement places. Its 
blossoms are maturing from the autumn in little round 
scaly buds, which old Evelyn calls "their winter lodge ;" 
in summer these buds expand, the barren ones into a sort 
of catkin covered with very yeUow pollen, the fertile into 
a little delicate soft fir-cone, consisting of a succession of 
scales, fitting beautifully one into the other, and wedged intu 
the very bottom of these scales are two very small seeds, 
they can hardly be called pistils, as they have no style 
and scarcely any stigma. The scales only open themselves 



XII JANUARY PLANTS 91 

for a little while, just to let in the pollen ; as soon as that 
is done they shut themselves close up again, like a box, 
over the little seeds, and there the cones hang on the 
under side of the branch in pairs, firm compact things, a 
fortification in themselves, each scale serving to guard not 
only its own charge of twin seeds, but those of all the 
rest, for one scale of a fir-cone cannot be pulled off 
without spoiling the appearance of the whole cone. 

The Scottish fir, and some others, have scales which 
are actually little wedges of solid wood, which are not 
easy to pull apart till the seed is ripe, when they fall 
down and open of themselves. The Weymouth pine and 
silver fir have perhaps the nicest cones, long and narrow, 
with even brown scales, fitting one over another like 
armour, and ranged in a spiral winding line, not in rings, 
but each single scale growing a little higher than the last 
They are the pleasantest to pick up, and look prettiest 
when burning, when the main part of the cone is black 
and every scale has a flame-coloured border, and then it 
goes off with a crack which makes you start, and the tur- 
pentine lights up into a clear flame. The leaves, like 
those of all evergreens, make a beautiful cracking and 
hopping, as every one knows who likes burning the 
Christmas holly on Candlemas Day ; I believe the reason 
is that there are little air-vessels between the two coats of 
the evergreen leaves, and the sound is made as the vessels 
burst and the air breaks out How pleasant is the resin- 
ous smell of the burning fir branch ! and it is said that 
the smell of the fresh boughs in an American forest is 
delightful 

The silver fir is so called because the leaves are white 
on the under side. The Scottish fir is more branching 
than its northern brethren, it has very long leaves, more 



92 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

like threads than needles, and growing two and two, 
spreading out like a pair of compasses. ^ 

And what shall we say of the uses of pines ? Deal 
boards, pitch, rosin, turpentine ; never mind all that, 
we don't want such great things in a chapter on flowers, 
and you learnt it long ago in your school reading books, 
or in Harry and Lucy you have read of the slide of 
Alpnach. 

There is one river in Norway where the pine trees 
are thrown in at the source and left to find their own 
way to Bergen, with a direction to their owners on their 
trunk (like other travellers), and down they come with 
the stream, tumbling over waterfalls, whirling round 
rocks, scrambling and dashing along as best they can, till 
they are fedrly caught at Bergen, and stowed in their 
master's timber yard. In some parts of America the 
floors are strewn with a carpet of young fresh pine shoots, 
as here in old times the floors were covered with fresh 
rushes. 

The greatest and most noble of all the needle trees is 
the glorious Cedar of Lebanon, the tree which formed the 
beams of Solomon's Temple. It is not tall, but a very 
wide-spreading magnificent tree, even as we see it here, 
and in its native home no one can look at the broad old 
trunks, few and shattered as they are, without reverence 
for them as for something sacred. The wood does not 
decay, and is so closely grained that no insect harms it 
In the very old times this cedar grove of Lebanon had 
very much larger trees. It seems that such trees will 
only grow on a sort of soil made by glaciers on a mountain 
side, and these large cedars thus grew. Some were hewn 
for the Temple, and floated in rafts to Joppa, to be taken to 
Jerusalem. Afterwards Sennacherib, the King of Nineveh, 



XU JANUARY PLANTS 93 

boasted, as we know, that he would " cut down the choice 
fir trees thereol" He said so in his letter to Hezekiah ; 
and some writing has been foiind on the rocks of Lebanon 
boasting of what he had done. No trees since, at Lebanon, 
have equalled those he cut down, though still they grow 
on the hill. 

And we may guess what those cedars were from the 
trees that grow in the same sort of soil in Western America, 
pine trees whose branches begin at such a height over- 
head that you seem looking to the sky. One hollow one, 
that lies dead on the ground, forms a tunnel through 
which a man can ride on horseback. A slice cut across 
the trunk of one forms the floor of a great ballroom. 
The bark of one was brought to England to be a wonder 
in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham. But when fire broke 
out near, it ran up the hollow like a chimney and brought 
destruction on all aroimd. It is impossible not to be 
sorry that these huge trees of the West were not used like 
those of the East, for Gk)d's glory instead of man's curiosity, 
but there are several of the giants still standing in good 
health, and whoever sees them ought to feel that they 
make a mighty temple showing forth the beauty of His 
works. 

The larch grows almost as tar north as the fir, and like 
it bears cones and needles ; but it is, as far as I know, 
the only sort of needle tree which is deciduous, that is, 
which lets its leaves faU. Its leaves are for more tender 
than those of its companions, and have no double coat, so 
that they are not fit to stand the winter. If you wish to 
see anything beautiful, go in the spring and look at the 
young larch blossom, the exquisite little crimson catkin of 
scales, fit to be a tree in a fairy forest, and afterwards at 
the soft purple conelet before it grows to the hard. 



94 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. XII 

green, knobby, scaly thing of autumn, or the brown one 
you may pick up now. 

The cypress is another cone-bearer, not English, but 
used in Italy to shade and ornament churchyards with its 
dark spires. 



CHAPTER Xin 

RULE OF FIVE AND FOUR, AND RULE OF THREE 

No, I am not going to set you a sum, but to tell you the 
two great rules by which you may understand more 
about plants. Every plant we have thought about has its 
blossoms, with parts going in fives and fours, or else in 
threes, except, of course, the ferns and mosses. 

Priuiroses go by fives, pinks by twice fives, foxgloves 
by fours, heath by twice fours, speedwell by half fours. 
Again, crocuses go by threes, and daffodils by twice 
threes. 

Now every plant that goes by fives and fours comes 
up at first out of the ground with two seed leaves or coty- 
ledons, as you see mustard and cress or lupins do. 

Every plant that follows the rule of three grows up in 
one round point, like a head of asparagus, or sometimes 
like a tusk or tooth. Don't yon know how glad we 
are to see that little spike or tooth in the snowdrop 
clumps in the spring ? and how fat and round the aspara- 
gus looks with its scaly top, so that the French call it a 
thumb? 

There is another difference. The asparagus, as you 
know, when it is not eaten, grows taller but not stouter. 
None of this three-kind grow larger in girth, but only in 



96 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. Xllt 

height. The lily has quite as thick a stem at the first as 
at the last Even big palm trees are as large in girth 
when babies as at a hundred years old. They shoot up 
&om the inside instead of the outside. So their proper 
name is Endogens, or Inside Growers. 

But the plants that go by fours and fives grow stouter, 
adding to their thickness as they grow older. They are 
the Outside Growers, the Exogens. You know how they 
grow bigger and bigger. There is one thing more — one 
difference — ^that all outside growers have leaves with a rib 
down the back and a whole network of branches and veins ; 
but Inside Growers all have long, straight, ribbon-like 
leaves, without ribs, running their whole length, as you 
may see in grass or lilies. 

So there are three classes of plants — ^The Exogens, Out- 
side Growers ; Endogens, Inside Growers ; and lastly, the 
Flowerless, such as ferns, mosses, and sea-weed& 



CHAPTER XIV 
SUB-CLASS I 

STAMENS ON THE RECEPTACLE 

I TOLD you about the classes in the last chapter. Now I 
am going to tell you about the sub-classes and tribes. 

Indeed I did tell you about the head tribe of all in 
the third chapter, when we were talking about April 
flowers — the Eanunculus, or Buttercup and Anemone. 
Now you know when the yellow petals of a buttercup 
come off, its bunch of stamens remains round its sepals. 
All this class are arranged in that way. They have many 
stamens, and five or ten petals. These petals are loosely 
fastened on, wnder the carpel, not upon it, and all plant& 
of this tribe are more or less poisonous. Next follows a 
tribe called the Magnolia. The great evergreen leaves^ 
and lai^e white flowers may be seen trained up against 
houses, solid heavy flowers with a very strong scent. 
They come from North America, and are very hand- 
Boma They have quantities of stamens and very curious 
pistils, and, as usual, the petals fall off very easily. 

The next tribe, however, has very few stamens. Only 
four or six. It is the barberry. Perhaps you know its 
very sour oblong red berries, its sharp spikes of thorn, its 

H 



98 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

shiniiig prick-edged leaves, and its blossoms, Uke clusters 
of little yellow roses, but probably you do not know bow 
curious is the arrangement of its stamen& They are bent 
back towards the edge of the petals, which guard the 
anthers from rain, but they are thus so fiEur from the germ 
that the pollen could never reach it Touch the lower 
part of the filament with a pin. It is as if you had 
touched a spring : up jumps the filament, it bends over 
the germ, opens its anther, lets out its pollen, then goes 
quietly back to its proper position. Instead of a pin this 
is effected in general by the little foot or slender trunk 
of a bee seeking honey, and thus by a wonderful arrange- 
ment of providence the insect repays the flower for the 
honey by setting the machine to work by which the seed 
is produced. The wood is very yellow, and splits easily, 
and it is not often allowed to grow, as there is a notion 
that it hurts the grass around it 

Who knows the glory of the river and pool, the great 
white Water-Lily ? It is our largest native flower, and 
magniflcent to behold are the thick solid white petals and 
long Arm anthers within them. By day it rises above 
the water, spreads at noon, closes with evening, and by 
night it draws its white cups to be refreshed and sheltered 
beneath the surfiEU^ of the stream, where its large flat 
heart-shaped leaves are always floating, sustained as they 
are by corkscrew stems, that lengthen or contract accord- 
ing to the depth of the water, so that the leaf may always 
be upon the surface. The yellow water-lily is smaller 
and less common than the white one, and not quite so 
beautiful. 

There is a very grand kind of yellow or red water-lily 
that grows in Egypt and India, and blossoms at the time of 
the inundations of their rivers. It is called the Lotus, 



XIV STAMENS ON THE RECEPTACLE 99 

and was liighly honoured by the old Egyptian idolators, 
as it still is by the Hindoos. The largest of lilies is the 
Victoria Begia^ a great crimson South American flower, 
growing in the river of the Amazon, with the leaves so 
large and solid that a child can walk on them. A few 
are grown in England in houses so warm you could hardly 
bear them, and always in hot water ponds. These are 
the water-lily tribe. 

Here follow the poppies, the only English scarlet 
flowers except the pimpernel They show us the charac- 
teristics of the class very plainly, their calyx feJling off 
when the flower unfolds, the multitudinous stamens with 
purple anthers, clustered round the foot of the great urn 
of a pistil, the stigma so beautifully ornamented with rays 
coming out from one centre, and lifting itself up upon 
little supports like the lid of the urn when the seed is 
ripe. Poppies are as poisonous as any of their tribe, and 
cause a heavy slumber, for which reason they are con- 
sidered as emblems of sleep. Opium is a medicine pre- 
pared from a yellow poppy that grows in the east It is 
very useful in lulling severe pain and producing sleep in 
bad illnesses ; but the Turks and Chinese are so foolish as 
to take it without being ill, because they like it to confuse 
their minds and send them into a sort of heavy trance or 
day-dream. I am afraid some people even in England do 
the same, in hopes of forgetting their troubles, but this is 
a very bad plan, as it stupifies their senses and hurts 
their healtL Besides they ought to know that Gbd sends 
troubles that they may do us good, not that we should try 
to forget them. 

By the sea-side we may find homed poppies, which, 
instead of an urn, have long pods shaped like horns, 
and in the corn-fields, now and then, the bright little 



100 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

red and purple pheasant eye, well named, for the colour- 
ing is very like that of the beautiful eye of the cock 
pheasant 

Next come the pretty yellow cistuses, or rock roses, 
that twist about on thymy banks, looking so cheerful and 
smiling, their five petals as frail as those of their handsome 
relative from Cyprus, the Qum-Cistus, so beautifully 
painted, each white petal shading into yellow, and dashed 
with deep purple so regularly as to form a pentagonal 
star when the flower opens in early morning bisfore the 
fierce heat of the sun has faded it I once told you of that 
pretty lawn, shut in with trees, giving such pleasant peeps 
of the arm of the sea beyond, where we used to watch the 
boats glide past with their sails white or red. There 
used to be a gum-cistus in the middle, and I shall never 
forget one sunny morning before breakfast, when I, a very 
little child, was standing there with my dear godfather, 
and showing him how all yesterday's cistuses were lying 
snowed down and iaAed on the grass, and he answered 
me that everything here faded and passed away, like the 
flowers and the boats, and we should pass away too. I 
thought it very strange and sad then, and would fain 
have forgotten it, but it always came back with the 
remembrance of the boats, or the sight of the cistus, and 
now I see that he did not mean it sadly. 

Now for a very odd little plant you may know as a 
garden weed, with a weak stem, pretty cleft leaves, and 
a long narrow paly pink flower with a little dark tip. 
There is a smoky look about it that has caused it to be 
caUed Fumitory, because fumus is the Latin for smoke. 
If you look closely into it you will see that it has two 
little purse-like petals outside closing in two narrower 
tufted ones, and there are two, three, or four stamens 



XIV STAMENS ON THE RECEPTACLE 101 

dosmg in the slender pistils. These are the marks of the 
curious Fumitory tribe. There are one or two other 
wild sorts, and a yellow one sometimes grown in old- 
fashioned gardens, but the handsomest is the Siberian 
Fumitory, called by gardeners Dielytra Spectabilis, a 
beautiful creature, with the middle petals of a kind of 
transparent white, and the purses of a most exquisite 
shape and rose pink. I always wish people would take 
to caUing it the Pink Purse Plant. 

Of Violets, whose tribe is the next, we spoke long 
ago in the May flowers, Chapter IV. So we will turn 
to the pretty milkwort tribe. On heaths and downs 
we delight to And the small milkwort, pink, blue, 
or white, with lovely little flowers, of which the pink 
is perhaps the prettiest, as it generally shows a large 
white tuft. It has sometimes eight stamens, sometimes 
more, like a crest in its helmet. There is a larger 
sort in America which is called by the pretty name of 
May-wings. 

The next interesting tribe includes the white soap- 
wort, and the agreeable feuodly of sweet pinks and car- 
nations. 

Sweet William stands flrst of these, fine fellow that he 
is, either crimson velvet all over, or white with a pink 
eye, and living at home in Germany, but very happy in 
an English cottage garden, and making a grand show in 
the nosegays that you send to some sister or cousin in 
London. The cloves, carnations, and picotees, about 
which gardeners are so choice, all come from one common 
sort wild in the south of Europe. I don't like any so 
weU as the old blood-red clove, and the plain white pink, 
they both smeU so sweet; and yet, saying this seems 
rathei hard on those pretty white ones trimmed with 



102 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

deep purple, but the worst of them is that their calyx, 
not being meant for a double flower, is crammed so fuU of 
their petals that it is apt to split and look very untidy. 
The little annual Indian pink is very pretty, its two long 
curling styles always put me in mind of the trunk of some 
kind of insects. We have a few wild kinds, but none 
very common. The whole race have linear leaves, a 
cup -like undivided calyx, five petals, fastened down 
with a long claw, and spreading like a fan above, with 
a deep deft in the middle of each, ten stamens and two 
styles. 

The little insignificant sandworts that creep on the 
gravel, the pretty white stitchwort or starwort that blows 
on hedge-banks in early spring, the chickweed with which 
we feed birds in cages, and the whole family of Silene or 
catchfly, are all ten-stamened flowers, with three long 
curled styles almost like the horns of an insect, their five 
petals each cleft in the middle very prettily. To the 
catchflies belongs what some children call white-bottle, or 
bladder-campion, from its large swelling calyx. I used to 
call it white robin, and fancy it the white comrade of the 
red robin ; but in this I was much mistaken, for red 
robin, or rose-campion, has five pistils with its ten stamens, 
and is a lychnis, as well as its odd wild-looking brother 
ragged robin, also called meadow lychnis or cuckoo-flower, 
because it shows its jagged pink petals and reddish stem 
just as cuckoos begin to sing. 

Another with five styles is the beautiful corn-cockle, 
which raises its deep purple-veined petals and long 
slender calyx leaves in its tall gray downy stalks in the 
midst of our fields. I am afraid farmers call it a trouble- 
some weed, and it is said that from its old name of Lolly 
the followers of Wickliffe were called Lollards. In the Book 



ZIY STAMENS ON THE RECEPTACLE 103 

of Job the cockle coming up instead of the barley is 
spoken of as a great misfortune. The yellow and white 
stonecrops also have five styles, starry flowers, with lumps 
rather than leaves; so has the many-belled pennywort, 
so named &om its round leaves. 



CHAPTER XV 

THB CBUOIFORH TBIBB 

OuB next tribe contains a number of flowers all of the 
same shape, like a cross of four petals^ and aU have four 
long stamens and two short ones. The only difference is 
that one group of them has a long pod, and the other a 
kind of odd-shaped pouch or purse, in which to cany their 
precious seeda These cross-shaped or cruciform flowers 
well deserve the mark set on them, for though in general 
they are not noted for their beauty they are some of our 
most valuable plants, and not one of the whole tribe 
is unwholesome. 

It will be best to begin with the largest of the race, 
as the parts can be seen in them more distinctly. They 
are of the few that are cultivated for the sake of their 
blossoms, though they only become prized in gardens 
when their cross-shape has been destroyed by doubling 
the petals so that they wiU never produce seed. And 
here a thought comes into my head, that if a Christian 
seeks after the admiration of this world, he tries to win 
it by hiding his cross and making the most of such of 
his gifts as are indeed showy, but were meant to shelter 
and aid the good seed within, not to ruin and starve it 

These cross-shaped flowers are the wall-flower and the 



CHAP. XV THE CRUCIFORM TRIBE 105 

stock. If you live in an old town, or near some gray 
ruin, you will be sure to see the yellow crosses of the 
wall-flower waving where perhaps St. (George's red-cross 
pennon streamed in former times, or if you have a garden 
at all I think you cannot fail to have a single wall-flower 
in it. You see it has four petals spreading out in a very 
prettily shaped cross, much like that which the knights of 
St. John used to wear on their mantles. Pull out one of 
these petals, and you find that it is suddenly narrowed 
into a colourless strip, which feustens it to the bottom of 
the deep cup-shaped calyx, consisting of four leaflets. 
Within are six stamens, four long and two short, so un- 
like those of the sixth class that you could never take one 
of these cruciform flowers for one of the lily race ; and in 
the middle we And a pistil, a very long and narrow germ, 
very short style, and a little two-cleft stigma. These 
parts you will And in every one of the fifteenth class, 
cruciform corolla, four long and two short stamens, and 
a single pistil. In about half of them the germ becomes 
a silicle, not very unlike the pear-pod in shape, but always 
different in two respects, that whereas the seeds of the 
butterfly-flowers are fastened to the same side of the case 
all the way down, those of the cruciform plants are flxed 
by turns to each side ; and the reason of this is, that when 
the pod opens to shed its seed it splits only on one side, 
from top to bottom, while the silicle separates at the bottom, 
the side of the seed-vessel curls up with its own share of 
seeds, and the stigma at the top alone holds them together. 
When taken down from its wall and grown in good 
soil the waU-flower becomes much larger, and spots of 
deep red (the colour of the calyx) spread on its petals. In 
time it is doubled and entirely red, and becomes a very 
handsome flower, under the name of bloody-warrior, the 



106 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP, 

glory of old English gardens, and the great ornament of 
May garlands. There are yellow and pink varieties, but 
none so noble-looking as the old-fashioned bloody-warrior, 
his head nodding with the weight of its numerous dark 
double blossoms. 

No one can rival him but his cousin the stock, or 
July flower, as it is sometimes called, a grand sight in 
its full splendour of crimson or white double blossoms. 
There is a little wild English stock, but I believe the 
parent of all these handsome varieties came &om Germany. 

Of the cruciform plants in our gardens there is one 
race, however, fer more important — nay, which give their 
name to gardens in Scotland, and which, according to 
their date, may claim precedence over the potato. They 
have yellow blossoms when they are allowed to flower 
at all, but this is not by any means what is required of 
them. Of one or two kinds we do indeed eat the young 
blossom buds, but for the most part we chiefly value the 
leaves and the roots. 

This race is that properly know as colewort^ in Scot- 
land kaiL One kind, which bears large leaves, veined 
with fleshy foot-stalks, was coaxed into doubling leaf over 
leaf in a large round solid leaf-bud, white within, and 
this, on its very short thick stumpy stem, in many a row 
in the garden, is called — need I tell you what ? Another 
variety reddened its leaves to a beautiful deep crimson. 
Another learnt to form immense heads of little young 
blossom buds, pressed close together, and whitened by the 
shade of the embracing leaves ; another shot out smaller 
heads of these same buds, more dispersed, less shaded, and 
therefore greener. 

Pigs and ducks, white butterflies, and children, say 
what are the names of these varieties of the brassica, or 



XV THE CRUCIFORM TRIBE 107 

colewort. I daresay you little knew how closely related 
are your friends the cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, or 
what part it is of the last two that you eat. In Qer- 
many the cabbage is thought so entirely the chief herb 
that it is called kraut, the word for a vegetable, and there 
a preparation is made with it which would not be at all 
to our taste. It is kept in a tub till it becomes what we 
should consider fit for the pigs, but the Germans think it 
excellent, and feast on it under the name of sour-kraut. 
Another colewort has lately been brought from Germany 
under the name of kohl-rabbi, which swells its stem, a 
little way above ground, into a great purple excrescence, 
like a fruit, of which cattle in some places are said to be 
very fond ; but there is another, far better known, which 
makes the same sort of swelling under ground, hanging 
small fibrous roots down from it. 

Do you know it ? Grown in gardens it is very good 
food for ourselves, especially in broth, or with boiled meat ; 
it is not at all bad eaten raw, and it can also, upon occa- 
sion, be hollowed out into a lantern. In fields it is culti- 
vated for the winter food of cows, and every one has seen 
a flock of sheep slowly progressing across a great fleld, 
shut in by their hurdles, till they have properly finished 
the allotted portion for the day and left nothing but a few 
hollow old shells, in which, however, the life is so strong 
that, uprooted as they lie, the first warmth and damp of 
spring will make them shoot out green leaves. Even 
piles which have been housed, fetr from soil and light, put 
forth young shoots in spring which some people think 
particularly good. The reason they sprout thus readily 
is the quantity of nourishment contained in that moist 
fleshy part of the stem which we call the turnip. They 
sometimes grow very large ; and I have heard of ao 



108 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

agricultural dinner in Norfolk where the pride of the 
farmers is to have small cattle and large turnips, at which 
a round of beef was served up enclosed within a huge 
turnip. 

The radish comes next in order after the turnip, and 
most children who have had a little garden of their own 
have pleasant recollections of sowing the seed, thinning 
the pretty young plants, and ending by filling a plate with 
the beautiful crimson taper roots, so shining and polished 
in water, so ornamental when disposed in the rays of a 
circle, and so crisp and pungent to the taste. 

I daresay the mustard grew next to the radish in 
those little beds, and perhaps you might have sown it so 
as to form your initials, so as to see them springing up in 
tender green on the brown eartL It will grow almost 
anywhere, even upon flannel or a cork floating in a soup- 
plate of water, where I think you would be amused to 
watch the stem and root burst forth from the seed. It 
will teach you the constant law, that every seed puts 
out a root downwards and a stem upwards. Turn it 
upside down as you may, stem will always be up, 
root always down. A different species of mustard is 
grown at Durham and Tewkesbury, whose seeds are made 
into that pungent compound which often brings tears into 
the eyes of those who sting themselves a little more than 
they intended. The mustard has a yellow cruciform flower. 

Water- cresses, growing cool and sheltered in clear 
running streams, have a very small white blossom. I 
don't think country people care so much about them as 
dwellers in towns, to whom their fresh green dampness is 
a treat It is pleasant to think how often a few pence 
may have been earned in time of sore need by some good 
little water-cress gatherer. 



XV THE CRUCIFORM TRIBE 109 

Almost all the cruciform plants have white or yeUow 
blossoms, and very few have such as make any show. 
There is certainly the purple rocket in gardens ; and, 
wild, we have that flower which we prize for showing its 
silver cross so early in spring, the cardamine, or lady's 
smock, or, as some call it, the cuckoo flower, because it is 
scattered so freely over the meadows just when the cuckoo 
sii^s. 

Hedge-mustard, also called Jack-by-the-hedge, or Sauce- 
alone, is a tall plant, with flat heads of very small white 
flowers and large leaves, that leave a very unpleasant 
smell on the hands of those who touch it It looks best 
late in autumn, when its thin, brown, transparent silides 
stand high in the hedge, lighted up by the setting sun, as 
if nothing, however humble, that has done its work well 
was to be left without some glory. 

Another division of cruciform flowers do not bear the 
long pod -like silicle, but have seed-vessels of various 
shapes, some of them very pretty, such as the little hearts 
of the tiny shepherdVpurse, which open on each side to 
let out their treasure. It has a very small white flower, 
and is now regarded in gardens as a troublesome weed, 
though it was once esteemed as good for medicine. An- 
other of the same genus, the treacle-mustard, has a long 
spike of seed-vessels, rounded at the top, and turned up- 
wards in a curious manner on their stems. 

Two more deserve mention, the candytuft in our 
gardens, which comes from southern Europe, and the tall 
lilac honesty, sometimes called moonwort, from the cir- 
cular form of its great flat seed-vessels — perfect shields, 
to guard the plant, I suppose, in rendering to earth its 
honest tribute of seed in return for summer moisture. 

Most of this sober and estimable, though far fixjin 



110 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. XV 

brilliant, feunily are annual ; not one has wood or bark 
like a tree, and scarcely one genus will live out of tem- 
perate climatea 

Here follows another tribe, called from mignonette, 
the very name of which means a little darling. It is very 
sweet, and its pale subdued tints serve to set off gayer 
flowers, just as a quiet-coloured dress looks well with a 
brighter ribbon ; and it is much loved by Londoners, 
who grow it in long green boxes outside their windowa 
Look at some pretty verses about it in Moral Songs. 
It has its seeds in very curiously-shaped vessels like little 
urns. There are two sorts of wild mignonette : one is 
like the garden kind, only larger and scentless, called by 
the name of woad, the plant with which the ancient 
Britons used to dye themselves. The other is yellower 
and in longer spikes, and is called Dyer's Eocket, yellow- 
weed. 



110 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. XV 

brilliant, family are annual ; not one has wood or bark 
like a tree, and scarcely one genus will live out of tem- 
perate climatea 

Here follows another tribe, called from mignonette, 
the very name of which means a little darling. It is very 
sweet) and its pale subdued tints serve to set off gayer 
flowers, just as a quiet-coloured dress looks well with a 
brighter ribbon ; and it is much loved by Londoners, 
who grow it in long green boxes outside their windows. 
Look at some pretty verses about it in Moral Songs. 
It has its seeds in very curiously-shaped vessels like little 
urns. There are two sorts of wild mignonette : one is 
like the garden kind, only larger and scentless, called by 
the name of woad, the plant with which the ancient 
Britons used to dye themselves. The other is yellower 
and in longer spikes, and is called Dyer's Rocket, yellow- 
weed. 



CHAPTER XVI 

TEA AND COTTON 

The St John's -wort tribe is so called because they 
blossom about St John's Day, at Midsummer. The largest 
species is called Park leaves, and raises its handsome 
head above a long straight stem, clothed with leaves in 
regular alternate pairs, in almost every shrubbery; the 
next largest, named Tutsan, from the French word Tovte- 
sain, all-heal, grows wild by the sides of woods, and has a 
blossom about the size of a primrose. The lesser kinds 
grow on every hedgerow, heath, and wood. All have 
brilliant yellow blossoms, divided into five petals, a larger 
swelling germ, crowned by three stigmas, and an infinite 
number of stamens, joined together at the bottom in little 
tufts or bunches, so that you cannot pull out one without 
the rest of the family. They hold together, as the old 
man in the fable taught his sons to do by the example of 
the faggot of sticks ; and the hair-like filaments crowned 
with dots spread out their multitude like a glory round 
the flower. The fruit is a red berry of a conical shape, 
which you may often see in the tutsan, and which stains 
the fingers so red that the old English name of the plant 
was man's-blood. The leaves are very curious, as you 
will see if you hold them up to the light They are fall 



110 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. XV 

brilliant, family are annual ; not one has wood or bark 
like a tree, and scarcely one genus will live out of tem- 
perate climatea 

Here follows another tribe, called from mignonette, 
the very name of which means a little darling. It is very 
sweet, and its pale subdued tints serve to set off gayer 
flowers, just as a quiet-coloured dress looks well with a 
brighter ribbon ; and it is much loved by Londoners, 
who grow it in long green boxes outside their windows. 
Look at some pretty verses about it in Moral Songs. 
It has its seeds in very curiously-shaped vessels like little 
urns. There are two sorts of wild mignonette : one is 
like the garden kind, only larger and scentless, caUed by 
the name of woad, the plant with which the ancient 
Britons used to dye themselves. The other is yellower 
and in longer spikes, and is caUed Dyer's Rocket, yellow- 
weed. 



CHAPTER XVI 

TEA AND COTTON 

The St John's- wort tribe is so called because they 
blossom about St John's Day, at Midsummer. The largest 
species is called Park leaves, and raises its handsome 
head above a long straight stem, clothed with leaves in 
regular alternate pairs, in almost every shrubbery; the 
next largest, named Tutsan, from the French word Tovte- 
sain, all-heal, grows wild by the sides of woods, and has a 
blossom about the size of a primrose. The lesser kinds 
grow on every hedgerow, heath, and wood. All have 
brilliant yellow blossoms, divided into five petals, a larger 
swelling germ, crowned by three stigmas, and an infinite 
number of stamens, joined together at the bottom in little 
tufts or bunches, so that you cannot pull out one without 
the rest of the family. They hold together, as the old 
man in the fable taught his sons to do by the example of 
the faggot of sticks ; and the hair-like filaments crowned 
with dots spread out their multitude like a glory round 
the flower. The fruit is a red berry of a conical shape, 
which you may often see in the tutsan, and which stains 
the fingers so red that the old English name of the plant 
was man's-blood. The leaves are very curious, as you 
will see if you hold them up to the light They are full 



112 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

of very small dots, just like little holes, indeed one kind is 
actually called the perforated St John's-wort ; but these 
are not really holes, only little vessels filled with oil, which 
gives out a strong smell if you rub the leal 

This perforated St. John's- wort is a very pretty plant, 
much more slender and graceful than the square St John's- 
wort known by its very hard square stem. The small 
upright kind is the especial beauty, growing on heaths, 
like a little golden star or spangle, on its slight crimson 
stem ; perhaps, if late in autumn, bearing a small red 
fruit Nor is the creeping kind to be despised, as it twists 
and stretches over wettish places, though not so deep in 
the bog as the next sort, the marsh St John's-wort, which 
never opens its blossoms wide, and has rough leaves, so 
unlike the other kinds that it is not easy at first to tell 
that it belongs to the same genus, all the rest having their 
character so strongly marked. 

Perhaps you have seen the handsome red or white 
waxy camellia flower grown in greenhouses. It gives 
name to the tribe to which belongs our most useful drink. 
Every one knows whence tea comes, so I will not stop to 
tell that It is a shrubby plant, with a pale pink blossom, 
and is grown in great plantations. The young leaves, 
when they are first put out in spring, are gathered 
carefully, and no one is allowed to use these but the 
Emperor himself. The next crop the Chinese keep for 
themselves, and only sell us the coarser leaves, which they 
gather at the time of the grand stripping of the trees. 
Then not a leaf is left, and as some of the trees grow 
wild, out of reach on the mountains, the cunning Chinese 
have a way of getting at them which you would never 
have guessed at. There are plenty of monkeys in those 
hills, and the Chinese go out and pelt them with sticks 



XVI TEA AND COTTON 113 

and stones, wliicli so provokes them that they break off 
boughs of the tea trees to return the compliment to the 
men, who gladly pick up the prize and strip off the 
leaves. 

The leaves are brought into the shrivelled, twisted state 
in which we have them by being laid on hot plates over 
a famace. It has always been a question whether the 
green and black teas are really different sorts, or whether 
the green is coloured by being dried on copper plates, or 
by some colouring matter. I believe the truth is that 
there is a real green kind, but that it is rare, and they 
generally sell us the Mse, painted green tea. 

For their own use they make the tea up into balls, 
or fiaggots of small twisted sticks, and instead of using a 
teapot they put one of these little parcels into a cup, and 
pour boiling water over it. The cups are often of beauti- 
ful porcelain, each in a filigree gold and silver case. 
They use no milk nor sugar with it, and a tray of these 
pretty little cups of strong tea is carried round to welcome 
every visitor. 

As to the old tea leaves, they make them up in the 
shape of bricks, and sell them to the Tartars, and though 
this is poor stuff, it is the best the Tartars can get, and 
they are so fond of it as to be ready to take it in payment * 
for anything they sell to the Chinese. 

Then comes a tribe called the Mallow, which has all 
its stamens growing dose round the pistil, joined in 
one. The largest of these that we often see is the 
tall holyoak, a grand-looking plant brought from China, 
and spiring up almost like a tree, with large leaves below, 
and handsome great, red, yellow, or white flowers on a 
long spike, or even of a very dark colour, which is some- 
times called black, but only by way of a boast I have 

I 



114 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

never been able to &ad out the reason of the name holy- 
oak ; I am inclined to believe it is two or three Chinese 
words run together. The tuft of anthers and stigmas are 
very handsome when the flower has not been doubled, 
and aU grow out of a sort of rounded, yet flattish germ. 
When the flower is feuied the tuft shrivels up, and the 
germ, packed up in the five calyx leaflets, swells into a 
shape a good deal like a large button, which some children 
call a cheese. If cut in two the parts are so regularly 
arranged as to be like a star. 

Children like to eat the cheeses of our English mallow, 
which is nearly related to the holyoak, and the plant used 
to be much esteemed for use in medicine, mallow leaves 
being thought very healing. "We have three wild sorts — 
the common, a lilac, striped darkly ; the musk mallow, a 
pretty pale pink, its leaves much divided ; and the dwarf, 
white, striped with lilac, much haunting dusty waysides. 
There is a handsome garden flower called the Malope, a 
very dark crimson, coming from the Mauritius ; a shrub 
called the Althea ; and a genus named Hibiscus, to which 
belongs a great favourite of mine, the African Hibiscus, 
caUed Black-eyed Susan, a primrose-coloured flower, with 
a very deep dark eye. The seeds of this genus do not 
grow into cheeses, but are round, and enclosed within a 
case. All the tribe love sunshine, and shut up their petals 
at night or in bad weather. 

We must not leave this order till we have mentioned 
two plants that we have never seen, though none, except 
the wheat, are of such daily use to us. I daresay you 
scarcely have a garment on at this moment some part of 
which is not composed of the first of these. The cotton 
plant, I mean ; the plant which caused the first Phoeni- 
cians who sailed round the Cape to be taken for deceivers 



XVI TEA AND COTTON 115 

when they reported that they had seen wool growing on 
trees as well as the sun in the north at noonday. We 
perceive in these days that this report of the voyage is 
the very proof that they had really gone where they pro- 
fessed. 

The cotton plant is a shrub which naturally grows to 
be about eight or ten feet high ; but where it is grown for 
use it is kept down to the height of a currant busk 
There are thirteen different kinds, one of which is a 
creeper and another a tree, but the most useful sort is 
the shrub. It bears a pretty yellow flower, with a dark 
eye, and this gives place to a pod, where the seeds are 
embedded in the soft white substance which we call cotton 
wool. You know it, I daresay, and keep your treasures 
in it, your tender shells, or little glass curiosities ; or you 
peep in at brooches lying on a bed of it ; or, possibly, if 
you ever scalded or burnt your finger, it has been packed 
up in it to keep out the air. This cotton wool has, how- 
ever, been carefully cleaned, and all the seeds picked out ; 
I have seen some, as it came fresh from the pod, looking 
much rougher and less white. Perhaps, however, this 
acquired its dirt in the packing, for it comes to England 
in great canvas sacks, two or three yards long and more 
than a yard in width. A man gets into this great bag, 
which is kept open by being fastened to posts, and is 
suppHed with cotton, which he treads down as hard as 
possible, trampling on it, and forcing it into every comer, 
tiU he rises gradually on it to the top, and light as 
cotton is, one bag holds three or four hundred pounds. 

Cotton is grown in almost every hot country, in so 
many indeed that it is not worth while to count them up. 
It is manufactured in great quantities in England, and 
those children are happy who have only to do with 



11$ THE HZSB OF TKK FIELD 

tlM; wcariog imtfad of the nw u i ii ng and veering In 
fomMer times poor dnldrai wcve dmdfiDlhr umwiaL ed, 
and thoD^ nnieh bai been done bj lav to jK c icnl dieBi 
from bong hepkin. the eotton mOb Sor too masr bomsa 
daf, it mnit be a md thing to fire in die din of madiiiicfT, 
and in ekae narrow rtreeti, instead of pieamnft c uunii; 
homc& Howerer, we know— 

** Thai Lore'f a flower tliat will not dSe 
For lack of kaff Kzeen ; 
And dnistiai bope may dieer tiie tjt 
Tbat ne'er eav Temal green.* 

And tbere is nothing reaUy to prevent a mann&ctaiing 
diHd from being aa good aa a coontzy child oog^t to be, 
thoii£^ there aze, I am afedd, many more temptatiooB in 
its waj. 

It ia onlj within the last fifty yean that cotton has 
become so cheap and common; and it is a yerj good 
thing in one way, since no one has any excuse now for 
not being clean, as they had when there was nothing but 
linen, which, though stronger and better, cannot be made 
so cheaply. Ask any elderly person to tell yon the price 
that Sunday dresses used to be, and it will surprise you, 
though you will generally hear them say at the same 
time tliat those gowns would wear out half a dozen of 
such as we have now. And they were certainly much 
prettier and better printed, as old patch-work will testify. 
I could show you svcJi, roses, and siuih a choice pattern of 
strange indescribable things, as I have lain studying many 
an hour before it was time to get up ; besides the old 
inherited scraps that are still kept in a bag, where they 
were long ago stored, as too beautiful and precious to be 
cut or used. 



XVI TEA AND COTTON 117 

India was the first place where cotton was much used 
for clothing, as the name of calico, from the town of 
Calicut, reminds us ; while muslin was named from 
Mosul, on the River Tigri& Though we make muslins 
here they are still not equal to those which are woven in 
India by men with a hand-loom ; and afterwards em- 
broidered, likewise by men, who walk about with the 
delicate muslin roUed round their body, and often so be- 
grimed that it is wonderful how it can ever be made 
clean again. The Indian princes wear turbans of muslin 
so fine, and of such a length, that it takes twenty years to 
make one ; and as to their wives, they expect their muslin 
robes to be of so fine a texture that the whole dress can 
be drawn through a ring. 

Then Chocolate has a tribe of its own, and so has the 
beautiful Lime or Linden tree, with its curious flower, 
with a great bract, and the sweet nectar that makes them 
all alive with bees. Linden trees form beautiful avenues 
like cathedral aisles. The inside of their bark forms the 
bass used for tying up plants in the garden 



CHAPTER XVII 

THE ORANGE TRIBE 

The citron, or orange family, is not even European 
by nature. Such of you as know anything will be sur- 
prised at this, for you hear of Lisbon oranges, and Seville 
oranges, and Malta oranges, and perhaps even of the orange 
groves of Spain and Italy. But though old books have 
told us pretty clearly all that the Greeks and Romans ate 
and drank, and we know how the Romans brought their 
com from Sicily, and their wine fix)m Falemae, and even 
their oysters from Britain, we never hear anything about 
orange& Now and then, indeed, there is some hint of 
golden apple& It was a golden apple, according to the 
fable, that was to be given to the fairest of the three 
goddessea Golden Apples were said to grow in the 
gardens of the Hesperides, beyond Mount Atlas, and in 
the race between a youth and the swiftest maiden upon 
earth, she was turned from her course by the golden apples 
which he threw down before her. Who knows if some 
stray orange had not come in the sight of the Greeks to 
cause these stories ? either brought by the Arabs from its 
native home in China, or by some bold Phoenician mariner 
&om the Fortunate Isles in the Western Ocean, about 
which they had many strange stories, and which we call 



CHAP. XVII THE ORANGE TRIBE 119 

the Canaries. Orange trees were growing there before 
the Portuguese visited them, and some of the best in the 
world grow there now, round the base of that great sugar 
loaf, the Peak of Teneriffe, which I should guess to be 
one of the most beautiful places in the world. The best 
oranges for eating that we get come from St Michael's, 
a little island of the Azores, but there are many others 
imported from Spain and Portugal The red-juiced blood 
oranges grow in Malta, and the delicious, fragrant little 
Mandarin orange is chiefly grown at Tangier. To all 
these places they were flrst brought in the fourteenth or 
fifteenth centuries from China, their original birthplace. 

I suppose there is not an English child who does not 
know the taste of an orange, but very few know the 
appearance of an orange tree, for only a few are grown in 
hot-houses, and not many children can go to see them 
there. However, if you wish to see what sort of leaves it 
has, you need only sow the pips of the next orange you 
eat in a pot of earth, and keep it all the winter in the 
window of a room with a fire in it, and in time you will 
see it raise a shoot, with handsome, dark green, polished 
leaves, evergreen, and, like the St John's-wort^ full of little 
vessels of oil, where resides the delightful scent I once 
raised three little orange trees from pips, and kept one 
of them some years till it was a foot high, then I gave 
it to a lady who had a greenhouse, and I don't know 
what became of it afterwards. Orange trees are very 
beautiful in the warm climates that suit them ; they grow 
higher than an apple tree, and spread out their rich dark 
green foliage, mixed with the white flower. The calyx is 
a little cup with five teeth ; the corolla is in five white 
petals, fleshy, full of vessels of fragrant oil, and sometimes 
dotted with green ; the stamens are not many, but grow 



120 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

united into little bundles out of a ring round the base of 
the round swelling germ. The stigma is green, and 
the anthers bright yellow, and altogether the whole 
appearance of the flower, with its sweet odour, has some- 
thing wonderfully delightful about it In some places, 
where it grows commonly, a wreath of the natural flowers 
is worn over the bride's veil at her marriage. 

As soon as the white blossoms fade the little ceUs of 
the germ begin to grow, and the whole germ, losing its 
stigma, becomes a round green ball, taking a whole year 
to come to perfection, and hanging on the tree long after 
it is ripe, so that it is the especial beauty of this exquisite 
tree to bear, all at once, the white flowers, with the green 
and the golden fruit, its promise and performance both 
visible together. 

No wonder the orange is so long in growing, for there 
is a whole workshop within its case, and you can see for 
yourself the result of all the strange things that happen 
there. The rind, full of little bags of oil, loosens and 
separates itself, while a thick white coat grows up within 
it J the cells, containing the seeds, enlarge, and not only 
this, but there grow forward into them a number of very 
small bags or bottles, each filled with pulp, which as the 
fruit ripens becomes juice, first very sour then sweeter. 
What is the use, you will say, of this juice being parted 
in so many little bags 1 It is another proof of the 
wisdom of the Hand that made the orange, such that it 
may be carried long distances, and brought to be the 
refreshment of thirsty lips so many miles from the sun 
that ripens it Why does the bee store its honey in such 
little cells? Do you know? Perhaps you will say it 
suits the bee to have storehouses no bigger than itself, 
and so it does : but do you know what happens when 



XVII THE ORANGE TRIBE 121 

honey is put away in large jars 1 If the weather is warm 
it ferments and turns sour, but though the beehive is a 
very hot place the honey never ferments in its own little 
six-sided jar& So it is with the orange, its juice, if it was 
all together, would soon be spoilt by the heat, but in 
these separate bottles it is safely secured, a little in one 
and a little in the other, and kept good till we want it 
The cells are the cloves of the orange into which our 
fingers can divide it, the bags are the fine net -work 
within them, much more easily discerned in a bad orange 
than a good one. The actual seeds every one knows ; but 
does it not show that oranges were made for our especial 
benefit that there should be so many without pips, so as 
to be of no use at all, excepting for food? Another 
arrangement to fit the orange for travelling long distances 
is the oil in the little dots in the peel, which keeps it 
fresh, though separated from the tree, as well as the thick, 
strong, yellow coat, lined with white, so much less tender 
than the covering of apples, pears, plums, or such fruits 
as are eaten on the spot 

Thus you see how our Father's gracious Providence has 
made this delicious fruit such as can be spread over the 
whole earth, eaten in this country even more universally 
than our native fruits, and more refreshing perhaps than 
any other. Who that has ever been ill does not remem- 
ber the pleasant, juicy, sharp sweetness, coming so re- 
freshingly, or the delicious taste of the orange squeezed 
into water, the nicest of all drinks ? I am sure, if people 
would only think a little, they would see that the com- 
monness and cheapness of the orange is a thing to be 
very thankful for, prepared as it is for our use and 
delight 

Delight, some of you will say, who like play better than 



122 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

eating, and who enjoy the sight of the basket (so called), 
made of the orange, or its doves divided into a flower, or 
its rind turned into a bowL By the bye, I hope, if ever 
you are obliged to eat an orange without a plate, that 
you don't throw its rind where it may be an unpleasant 
sight, and perhaps the means of a bad falL 

Oranges come to England packed in large cases, which 
you sometimes see at fruiterers' shops, with laths bent 
over the top to protect them. The pale- coated, sour- 
juiced lemon, which gives so pleasant a flavour to pud- 
dings, grows in company with it on Mediterranean coasts ; 
the lime, the smallest of the race, is wild in India, and its 
juice is most deliciou& The shaddock is another Indian 
fruit ; and there is another kind sometimes brought here, 
and very large and handsome, to which some thoughtless 
person has irreverently given the name of forbidden fruit 
I hope if ever it comes in your way you will not make 
nonsense about its name as I have heard of some silly 
people doing. Of course it has nothing to do with the 
real fruit of the tree of knowledge, and there is no harm 
in eating it, but there is great harm in talking lightly of 
the sin for which every one of us is suffering. 

The citron was brought to Europe from Assyria and 
Media, even before the orange. It is hardier, and I have 
seen one tree growing in the open air in a warm sunny 
place. It will ripen its fruit in hot-houses, and is often 
preserved ; but the chief use of it is in its thick delicious 
rind, which affords such tit-bits in mince pies, plum- 
puddings, and those cakes, all white outside, all dark 
inside, which on twelfth-days, christening-days, and wed- 
ding-days, are said by the wise to be too rich to be eaten. 
And well for the foolish if they are only allowed that 
** enough " which is " as good as a feast" No, I don't 



ZYII THE ORANGE TRIBE 123 

call them foolish if, of themselves, they only take enough, 
for to be temperate in aU things is part of the highest 
wisdom. Happy the child who does not think the citron 
and the plums the best part of the feast — ^no, no^ even 
the almond paste. I wonder whether you and I should 
agree as to what the best part of the festival is ! 



CHAPTER XVIII 

THE crane's-bill TRIBE 

The next of these plants form the crane's-bill tribe. 
These foUow the old rule of five : five leaflets to the 
calyx, five heart-shaped petals, five long and five short 
stamens, all closely joined round the five-furrowed germ, 
five slender united styles, and graceful stigmas. They are 
called crane's-bills from their seed-vessel, from which the 
styles project in one long, brown, dry point, like the 
beak of a bird, until, becoming quite ripe, they curl up 
and open the germ, whence the seed leaps out with a pop. 
Their petals are most beautifully veined with little 
vessels, through which they breathe, that is, let the air 
pass. All corollas have these vessels, but they are more 
evident in the crane's-bills than in most others, because 
the texture is peculiarly delicate. The commonest of all 
these is Herb Robert^ the pink crane's-bill, that grows in 
every hedge in autumn, putting out a pretty veined flower 
that sometimes is confused, under the general name of 
Robin, with the two lychnises of the tenth class, Ragged 
Robin and meadow campion, though a little observation 
will soon show the diifference. Herb Robert is much more 
delicate than either, and has always a bright red stem, 
and leaves much cut and divided. The dove's-foot crane's- 



CHAP. XVIII THE crane's-bill TRIBE 125 

bill, which creeps about in the dusty waysides, has a still 
more elaborately-divided leaf ; I would defy the cleverest 
cutter of lace paper to make anything so prettily-formed 
as its branching leaves. The flower is very small, and 
pale pink, and has a smell of Indian ink. The beautiful 
Pencilled Crane's-bill is larger ; it is white, and its veins 
are marked with delicate streaks of lilac, while its stigmas 
form a beautiful tuft ; but the handsomest of aU is the 
great purple meadow crane's-bill, which is to be found in 
profusion in the northern and midland parts of England, 
though in the south, it will only grow in gardens. 

The Latin name of the crane's-bill is Geranium, and 
this was at first given to certain beautiful large crane's- 
bills that were brought from the Cape, but afterwards 
botanists considered that the cottony wings of the seeds of 
the foreigners deserved to be made into another genus, 
which they called Pelargonium. However, the plants 
had become such household friends that homely people 
could not bring themselves to the new name, so to this 
day we commonly call them geraniums. I know nothing 
about their fine names, nor of the new sorts that gardeners 
are always raising from seed and sending to showa They 
are very grand, no doubt, especially those that are some- 
times exhibited at horticultural shows, as large as a currant 
bush, and covered with blossoms aU round ; but what I 
like, and look upon as home friends and pets, are the precious 
old plants, that have stood for years and years in some 
window, prized perhaps for the sake of the giver, or the 
old home from which they have been brought, and it may 
be, watered and tended almost like children by some feeble 
old lady who has hardly strength to totter from one flower- 
pot to another, to pull off their fragrant leaves as soon as 
they have once shown a faded edge of yellow. Or perhaps 



126 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

one geranium plant is the companion and Mend of some 
hard-working girl, who keeps it in her town window to 
put her in mind of the green leaves and kind friends she 
left far away in the country. Those are the really choice 
geraneysy as the children call them, far choicer than the 
new varieties that are only cared for because they are new 
and scarce. Yet I will not say that it is not a very nice 
pleasure in gardening to sow the seeds, and watch whether 
they will come up some different kind, or the old original 
sort, to which nine out of ten will return, though chosen 
from very different plants. 

The oldest kinds, from which all the rest have sprung, 
are, I believe, the nutmeg geranium, a very sweet-smelling 
one, the two upper petals red, and the lower white and 
streaked ; the oak-leaved, which has a very deeply-lobed 
leaf, and a white blossom, spotted with deep rich purple 
on the upper petals, though not nearly so large as that 
fine, white, purple-marked kind which I admire the most 
of all the new ones ; and, lastly, the dear old horse-shoe, 
or scarlet geraniuuL This every one knows for its dazzling 
head of brilliant blossoms, and that most delicious of all 
leaves, so soft, so downy, so elegantly shaped and cut, and 
so gracefully marked with the dark line. Even grand 
gardeners cannot do without it ; they train it to the top 
of their hot-houses, or pin it down in flower-beds, so as to 
make it form one sheet of scarlet almost too bright to 
look at 

The useful flax tribe has the same delicate veined 
petals, with five pistils, but only five stamens ; and whereas 
the crane's-bills are all red, this is blue, except that there 
is a very tiny white kind, and the beautiful garden New 
Zealand flax is blood-red. 

Flax used to be much more used in former times than 



XVIII THE crane's-bill TRIBE 127 

now, when cotton can so easily be brought from hot 
countries. 

Flax made the beautiful fine linen of Egypt Who 
would have thought of burying the Egyptian dead, in the 
time of the Pharaohs, with delicate cambric handkerchiefs 
on their faces as fine as any lady now ? The best and 
most lasting of that beautiful thing, lace, is made of thread 
from flax. Linen is so called from Linum, the Latin for 
flax. The thread is really the fine fibres of the stalks, 
very thin, but very tough, so that it lasts when all the 
green part has been soaked off in water. 

Flax seeds are called linseed, and are so oily that they 
are made into cakes to feed cattle upon in the winter. 
And linseed meal is mixed with mustard to make plasters 
to put on people's chests when they have bad colds. That 
little dainty blue flower is by no means aU for show. Its 
Latin name may well be Linum Usitatissimum — the most 
used. 

Last of this cousinhood is the woodsorrel tribe. Still 
with delicate thin petals or veined petals. All the plants 
have a very sharp taste. Our English one is the lovely 
woodsorreL Delicate little thing ; do you not delight in 
finding its beds, full of those pale green trefoil leaves and 
exquisite white flowers streaked with purple? Li Ger- 
many it is called the Hallelujah, and is thought the special 
flower of Trinity Sunday, because of its threefold leaves. 

Holly properly comes here ; but you must go back to 
the " Christmas Evergreens," in the eleventh chapter, for 
it^ and for the spindle tree. 



CHAPTER XIX 

BALSAMS AND NASTURTIUMS 

Very odd -shaped flowers are coming next. Creatures 
with queer little tails, and strange habits as to their seeds. 
First of these is the Balsam, once deemed so medicinal 
that the very name implies something healing, though 
now it is only an ornament for our gardens and hot- 
houses. You remember that the violet is a pentagon 
flower, and you will soon see that the form of the balsam 
is nearly similar, except that the petals are more irregular, 
and instead of the short blunt spur of the violet it has 
quite a long, sharply-pointed curly tail There is one 
English sort, and a very funny fellow it is, with yellow long 
spurred flowers, and capsules so irritable that the moment 
they are touched their little valves fly open, as if by a 
spring, and curl themselves up, while the seeds pop out 
with a bounce, and scatter themselves in all directions. 
For this reason it is called in English the Touch-me-not, 
and in Latin the Impatiens Noli-me-tangere, which means 
the same thing. Though English, this hasty gentleman, 
or rather lady — ^for in some places it is called Jumping 
Betty — is not very frequent, and the only place where I 
ever saw it growing wild was on the side of a deep ravine, 
in which the streamlet winds along which forms the cas- 
cade, of Stock Gill Force at Ambleside. It is often, 



CHAP. XIX BALSAMS AND NASTURTIUMS 129 

however, grown in gardens, as well as its almost equally 
impatient Levantine cousin, the purple balsam, a tall 
handsome plant) with purple flowers and stems tinged 
with red, the leaves growing in pairs at the joints. The 
red and white balsam, grown in hotbeds and nursed in 
drawing-rooms, is, I believe, a Cochin Chinese, and there 
is a pink Sultana from Zanzibar. 

Peru is apt to grow sun-coloured flowers, and thence 
comes what we foolishly call the Nasturtium, though it 
has two very good old English names, Indian cress and 
yellow lark's heels, besides a real Latin one, Tropaeolum, or 
trophy, given because the leaves are like shields, and the 
flowers like golden helmets. It is a droU flower, with its. 
yellow calyx growing out into a long spur behind, and 
the littie fringes to its yellow or orange petala These 
petals are very good when put into a salad, which is the 
reason, I suppose, of their being called Indian cress ; and 
it is said that just before sunrise, especially in thundery 
weather, they give out flashes of light, as a black cat* s 
back does on a frosty night All I can tell you about the 
cause of this wonder is that it is the effect of electricity, 
and there we stop short, neither of us much the wiser. The 
prettiest sort of tropsBolum is the little canary-bird flower, 
so called because it is just like a littie yellow bird, the 
bud like a canary with its wings closed, the half-expanded 
flower like one flying, and the fall-blown like a bold cock 
canary, wings and tail full-spread, darting out at an enemy ; 
and there is a small three-coloured sort, black, yellow, and 
red, grown in hot-housea 

Rue, which used to be held as good for fevers, gives 
name to the next order. Also there is one for the Quassia 
tree, which furnishes very wholesome bitter but strength- 
ening medicine. 

K 



CHAPTER XX 

TBEBS 

The tribes that follow are chiefly trees. The first is the 
holly, of which we had plenty to say at Christmaa 

Then comes the maple. The maple has eight stamens 
growing in a small green blossom. The fruit is very 
curious, two long lobes, commonly called keys, hang- 
ing down from a long stem, and each containing one seed. 
The maple changes the colour of its leaves early in 
autumn, and looks very gay in the hedges ; its leaves too 
are of a very pretty lobed form, especially those of that 
large handsome kind the sycamore. The sap too of one 
kind is very sweet, so sweet that in North America it is 
made into sugar ; I have seen a cake of brown coarse- 
looking maple sugar, such as each Canadian farmer makes 
for his own use, just as we make cheeses. 

And another tribe is named by that noble tree the 
horse-chestnut I cannot tell where the native country of 
the horse-chestnut may be ; some say it is among the 
mountains to the north of India, and I should guess that 
it must be a rather cold place, because the buds are so 
well protected from the winter's frost 

We see them even before Christmas, pointing up their 
hard, sticky, dark brown noses in readiness for the next 



CHAP. XX TREES 131 

spring, and if you wish to see a pretty sight I will teU 
you wliat to do. Take one of these buds, and with a 
sharp knife and steady hand make what in learned lan- 
guage is called a longitudinal section of it^ that is to say, 
cut it in two, lengthways, just as the meridians of longi- 
tude are marked on the globe. First you see there is an 
outer case of hard brown scales, covered with gum to 
keep all safe and firm ; there are at least as many as 
seventeen to one bud, lapping one over the other, so that 
Jack Frost may pinch as hard and tight as he chooses 
without doings the least damage to the precious little gem^ 
within. A lady packs up her gems and jewels in her 
morocco cases, lined with satin, and made soft with cotton 
wool ; but nature guards her jewels still more choicely, 
for smoother than satin is the green lining of the inner- 
most of these gummy scales, and finer than cotton wool is 
the soft silky down within them, where nestles the young 
spike of blossoms and leaves. You can already see the 
form of the tapering spike, and the green of the mites of 
leaves, and if you have a little microscope, and are always 
hunting for objects for it, you will be delighted to see for 
yourseK how perfect the whole branch of leaves and 
blossoms is already in this embryo state. Is it not beauti- 
ful 1 And the more we look into them the more we see 
the perfection of these works of a Divine Hand ; a Gterman 
botanist, with a much better glass than we are likely ever 
to have the use of, managed to count the flowers, sixty- 
eight in number, and to see the pollen on the stamens. 

In the Spring the sun dries up the gum, the scales 

crack off, and are strewn under the tree, as we pull brown 

paper off a parcel ; and as if a fairy wand had touched 

them, out burst the light green leaves, like drooping fans, 

^ Gemma, a gem, is the Latin name for a leaf-bud. 



132 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

seven sprmging from one foot-stalk, and four or five foot- 
stalks from each bud, all centring round the straight 
spike of blossoms, which alone points upright, while the 
leaves hang drooping round it Then how fast they grow, 
as if they all were racing which should come to their full 
size first, the spikes shooting higher and higher ; the 
leaflets, which to-day were as long as a baby's finger, are 
to-morrow quite as long as your own, the next day a man 
could hardly span them, and in a week it must be a 
giant indeed who could lay the leaf on the palm of his 
hand. Next^ the May sunshine opens the blossom buds 
on that tall upright branch, where they grow together in 
little bunches of three, twenty-two of these threes per- 
haps on one spike, each with a calyx divided into five, 
a corolla of five petals, with seven stamens, and one pistil, 
its germ round and its style tapering. The petals are 
white, but the two upper ones have a large spot of colour 
on them, sometimes yellow and sometimes pink, and this 
gives the flowers a peculiarly pretty vari^ated appear- 
ance. Beautiful things ! I am always sorry when the 
white petals fall off and the tree of noble spikes loses its 
beauty and ceases to be what it has been very well 
named, a gianfs nosegay. It would be too much for the 
poor tree to maintain and bring to perfection a fruit for 
every one of the sixty-six flowers on each spike ; so only, 
two or three on each even form their fruit, and of these 
one or two generally faU off, and lie like little green 
prickly balls on the ground ; the others swell into a large 
prickly green case, with a beautiful smooth lining, like 
white kid leather, fashioned into two cells, holding the 
delight of all children, two polished brown seeds, as large 
as a marble, and veined and smooth as the mahogany 
dining-table. What a prize they are, and what fun to 



XX TREES 133 

pick them up and play with them ; and how they are 
admired, especially when only half ripe, with their brown 
and white in spots like a piebald horse. If you put them 
in the fire beware, fi)r the heat turns their moisture to 
steam, and in trying to break out of their hard case the 
steam drives them out with a bounce, breaks the case, and 
makes it fly all over the room. Don't eat them either, for 
they would make you very sick ; leave them to deer, which 
are very fond of them. There is another kind of horse- 
chestnut, with red blossoms and smooth fruit, not nearly 
so handsome as the common kind. Now we have come 
to another tree, we will not leave it without my telling 
you something about bark. Did you ever peel a stick ? 
First there is a thin brown skin, next a thicker coat, green 
outside, which is apt to hurt one's fingers. These are the 
two coats in their youth, and they are always growing 
and thickening each year, not from the outside, but by 
layers from within. The inner rind is caUed the liber, 
and on this the Romans used to write, and so in Latin a 
book was named liber, and you know in English a num- 
ber of books is termed a library. Who would have 
thought of a library being so called from the bark of a 
tree ! The bark, I said, grows from within, receiving 
layers from the useful sap-wood, and so the outer coat of 
the tree is always growing too tight for it 

Some trees, such as the horse-chestnut, seem to manage 
nevertheless to keep their garments whole, but the birch 
peels off its old skin in long thin purplish ribbons, that are 
tempting to pull at ; the plane makes a ragged figure of itself 
by casting off its jacket in great flakes, and the oak and elm 
show deep furrows in their outer bark where it has split and 
parted wider each year, to make room for the under growth 
of the liber and the enlarging rings of the sap-wood. 



CHAPTER XXI 
SUB-CLASS II 

STAMENS ON THE CALYX MANY PETALS 

We liave been going tlirough one great sub-class of the first 
class. That first order, you remember, is of plants that grew 
from the outside — Endogens, and have two seed leaves — so 
as to be dicotyledons. The first class again of this order is 
of plants with stamens growing on the receptacles. We 
have done with that class. Now for another. This time the 
class is of flowers where the stamens grow on the calyx. 

The first half of these, or sub-class, as the learned caU 
itj have many petals to their flowers — like a rose ; the 
the second half have petals all in one, like the primrose. 

We begin with the many petaUed set Some of the 
tribes we have talked of before ; for the two first are the 
Butterfly flowers or Pea tribe, and the Roses, of which we 
talked in June. 

I told you about most of the eighth class, with parts 
in fours and twice fours, when we were about the last bells 
of summer ; there are only a few more worth mentioning, 
such as the bright yellow-wort, with its stiff stem and 
handsome flowers, and the whole tribe of whortleberries 
and cranberries. 



XXI STAMENS ON THE CALYX MANY PETALS 135 

We pass on to the Bomet tribe, droll-looking flowers 
growing in dusters, the blossoms of which come out a few 
at a time on its round green head. It used to be valued 
for the food of cattle, and though it is now little regarded, 
it is often to be found in grass fields. If picked to pieces 
these little flowers will be found to have each a number 
of drooping stamens hanging down in crimson tassels. 
There is a pretty green and red moth that feeds on it and 
is called after it 

We now and then see the almond tree in gardens, its 
delicate pink blossoms coming long before the leaves, which 
in one variety have their under sides covered with a white 
cottony substance that gives them a gray, dull appearance. 
It is this hoariness that is referred to in that last and 
most solemn chapter of the Book of Eccle/dastes, where the 
Preacher says among other tokens that the time is com- 
ing for "man's going to his long home," that "the 
almond tree shall flourisL" The almond tree grows wild 
in the Holy Land, and its fruits were among the gifts 
that Jacob desired his sons to carry to the governor of 
Egypt, whom they knew so little. The rod by which the 
Lord was pleased to show that he had chosen Aaron to be 
His priest blossomed with almond flowers and was laid 
up in the Ark. The wild almond, with its branches, 
buds, and blossoms, was the pattern of the seven-branched 
golden candlestick or lamp-stand. The knops we read 
of were for buds, the lights the flowers. Perhaps it was 
because the almond is the first tree that buds and shows 
promise. 

The almonds we use are chiefly brought from Smyrna ; 
they are much grown about Avignon, in France, where 
the hoary leaves are said to give the country a dull deso- 
late aspect The outer case of the nut is brown, and of a 



136 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

long form, to suit the white crescents that look so invit- 
ing on purple raisins, or are the hearts of such very large 
sugar-plums that people with moderate-sized mouths had 
rather have nothing to do with them, and only very small 
people have much desire to have such a mouthful 

That we may not be entirely un-English, we must 
just mention our pretty mountain-ash, its white flowers, 
feathery leaves, and brilliant red berries. It belongs to 
the same family as apples and pears, and has, like them, 
Ave pistils. The Scots call it rowan, and used to believe 
it had many virtues, and that a sprig of it would protect 
them from many strange evils. 

Nearly related is the pretty Lady's Mantle, so called 
from its elegant leaf, somewhat like that of a geranium. 
The flower is a queer one in loose spikes, and grows in 
rough grassy places. 

Of the strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry we spoke 
before, and near akin with their clustered heads and many 
stamens are the spiraeas or meadow-sweets. 

The creamy meadow-sweet, otherwise prettily called 
Queen of the meadow, must be mentioned here. The 
meadow-sweet has a very pretty, irregular corymb, and 
is particularly pretty mixed with willow-herb and purple 
loose-strife. There is a garden kind of meadow-sweet 
about which I have another pleasant school-child story to 
teU you : — 

We had once a girl who had a very pleasant, quick, 
obliging way, an honest face, and good temper, that made 
us like her very much. We took a great deal of pains 
with her, and I do believe she was very fond of us, but, 
after a time she got careless and idle, did not do well in 
her first place, and we lost sight of her. After a long 
time her two little sisters came to school one Sunday each 



XXI STAMENS ON THE CALYX ^MANY PETALS 137 

with a very large nosegay of flowers, that evidently came 
&om no garden of theirs, and which they triumphantly 
gave to n& We asked about them, and found that our 
old friend was now in service at a gardener's, had come 
home for a Sunday, and had got leave to bring these 
beautiful flowers, which she sent to u& The part of the 
nosegay we chiefly admired was this meadow-sweet, and a 
Httle while after, to our great surprise, the Httle girls 
brought us a present of a root, which their sister had 
begged from her master. You wiU guess, after this, that 
she had conquered her idleness, and was going on very 
well ; and I am glad to teU you that I have heard 
nothing but good of her since, nothing to spoil the pleasure 
her meadow-sweet gives me every year when I see its 
cream-coloured blossoms. 



CHAPTER XXII 

MOUNTAIN FLOWERS AND POMEGRANATES 

Wb have come to a very diflferent set of tribes still many 
petalled, and named from the rock lover the Saxifrage, 
or Stonecrop. It is a carefril observer of the iiile of five, 
with starry five-pointed flowers, yellow, white, or pink, 
five pistils, and twice five stamens, and fat fleshy leaves, 
growing low. It loves rocks and stone walls, which it 
lights np with its bright Httle stars. There are a great 
many sorts, best known to those who live in rocky places, 
and there is one very pretty kind grown in gardens, 
white, spotted with tiny red dots, and little pink styles 
and stamens. Some one caUed it "None So Pretty," and 
some one else must have thought it conceited, for its 
other name is London Pride ; also it is Irish cabbage 
and Lady's needlework. Another mountain flower is the 
Grass of Parnassus. It is not grass at all, but has a 
white blossom with five round petals, and makes sheets 
of white in boggy places on mountain sides. It takes its 
name from Mount Parnassus in Greece, where those 
poetical ladies the Muses were thought to live. 

On moorlands and in bogs grows that very strange 
plant the Sundew, a great lover of bogs, but very well 
worth pursuing into them, though you must be an early 



xxn M0X7NTAIN FLOWERS AND POMEGRANATES 139 

riser indeed, if 70a wish to see its white blossoms open, 
for they never expand except just at sunrise, and shut 
up again immediatelj after it Yet they and their six 
pistils are not the strangest part of the plant Look at its 
leaves, round green things, widening out from a red stem, 
the shape of a battledore, and covered with red hairs, 
and on these red hairs, however hot the sun may be, 
' there is always what looks like a pearl of dew, retained 
there since the morning. It is not) however, a real drop 
of dew, it is viscid or sticky, as you will find on touching 
it) and it exudes from the plant Sometimes small 
insects may be found glued to the leaves by this drop of 
dew, and some persons think that the plant lives on their 
juiceS) and that the leaves act as a sort of trap to catch 
them for it I do not much like the idea of this pretty 
flower being so like a beast of prey in its own small way, 
but it is not the only plant that actually entraps insects 
and is nourished by them. 

The next English tribe that follows contains only one 
sort of plant) and that plant is remarkable for having only 
one stamen. You may discover it if you like to take the 
trouble of poking into a stream of running water, where, 
waving slowly with the motion of the current, you find 
the marestaU, why so called I cannot tell, since such a 
tail would look remarkably droll on any horse. It has 
a round thick fleshy stem, as all water-plants have, a root 
with a profusion of fibres, which, when you pull it up, 
bring an immense mass of wood and slime, and leaves, 
which grow in whorls, that is to say, in circles round the 
stem, at intervals of about an inch. They are long and 
narrow ; and as to the flower, it is almost as if there was 
none at aU, for there is no corolla and very little calyx. 
The blossoms, which come out in May and June, have no 



140 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

stem, and are wedged in at the foot of the leaves ; the 
single anther is red. 

Don't take horsetaQ for marestail : they are two very 
different things, and are as far removed from each other 
as possible, for the horsetaH has an " unseen blossom,'' and 
belongs to the last of the classes ; while marestail, though 
very possibly ite blossom may be miseen by you, is in aU 
the dignity of the very few number ones of England. 

A very different tribe may be mentioned next It has 
many stamens growing on the calyx. Who does not love 
the myrtle, so pure and fresh, with its tufted stamens and 
deHdorirgLn leaves? it is a home Mend, whether 
reared with pains and care in a little flower-pot on the 
window-seat, or, as in some favoured places it may be 
seen, flourishing up to the very eaves of the house. Broad- 
leaved or narrow-leaved, it is always honoured and re- 
spected, and treated as something choice — one of the 
simply dressed but high-bom ladies of the flowers, her 
purity and modest grace, her attraction, without gaiety 
of colour, as we said before of her companion the jessa- 
mine. It grows in perfect thickets in Italy and Greece, 
though ancient writers say that it was not originally a 
native, but was brought from Asia. It was highly 
esteemed by the old Greeks and Romans, and myrtle 
wreaths were used as well as bay to adorn the victors in 
their games. It was considered to be the plant of peace 
and love, and when a general gained any great advantage 
for his country without bloodshed the myrtle was wound 
with his garland of bay. The goddess of beauty, Venus, 
was said to have sprung from the sea-foam with a myrtle 
wreath round her brow, so the Roman ladies used to 
put the leaves into the water in their baths, as if they 
thought beauty must come out of myrtle tea. G^erman 



XXII MOUNTAIN FLOWERS AND POMEGRANATES 141 

girls eacli grow a myrtle in a pot, and from her own plant 
the bride's wreath is woven. The fruit of the myrtle is a 
purple berry, which seldom or never ripens in England, 
but was once used in cookery by the Romans. There is, 
however, a large kind of myrtle growing in Jamaica, which 
is called the pimento, and which supplies us with allspice 
for our puddings. 

The tribe of loose-strife seems as if it might be so called 
because the blossoms are both loosely shaped and loosely 
set on their spikes. They have crumpled petals, and about 
eleven or twelve stamens more or less. A dry, hard, nar- 
row um or capsule takes the place of the flowers. One sort 
is the tall purple loose -strife, which borders our streams 
with rich purple wands fit for a fairy emperor, with leaves 
that at touch of autumn turn to a bright rich crimson, or 
sometimes they make a sheet of gorgeous though sober 
colouring over a marsh. 

That um of seeds is something like that which is 
borne by a few more renowned sorts. 

The Pomegranate tree is sometimes seen in England 
against walls, for the sake of its deep crimson blossoma 
We must look to the bright Mediterranean shores to find 
its fruit ripened ; rich orange-shaped and coloured fruit, 
divided into five cells, containing numerous seeds in purple 
pulp (from which it is called the Pomegranate, the seeded 
apple), gathered into a sort of crown at the top, formed by 
the old calyx. Its name puts us in mind of many things : 
the bells and pomegranates of gold that bordered the robe 
of the high priest, and the workmanship of the gold of the 
inside of the Temple, where it must have had some signi- 
fication which we cannot understand. The Spanish Arabs 
named their loveliest city Granada, because they thought 
the form of the soft rounded vale like the outline of the 



142 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. XXII 

fruit The fruit became the ensign of the city, which was 
the birthplace of our poor Queen Eatherine of Arragon, 
and in remembrance of that fair home of her youth the 
pomegranate became her badge, and afterwards that of her 
daughter Mary. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

WILLOW HERB AND FUCHSIA 

The rule of four is observed by all the plants we come to 
now. They all look a good deal alike when they are 
young, for they all have leaves growing in pairs on oppo- 
site sides of the stem, simply shaped, rather pointed, and 
often toothed ; and their petals, their stamens, and their 
seed cells are always either four, half four, or twice four, 
and generally rich red and purple colouring. 

There are the willow herbs, the taU French willow 
herb, with its curiously-cut petals and red calyx and spires 
of blossom, and the English willow herb, better known as 
" codlings and cream," which opens its fine red blossoms 
by the river side, the white stigma within divided into 
four, and opening like another little flower. There are 
three or four poor little pale willow herbs besides, which 
do not look as if they were of the same family as these 
fine handsome flowers, but, like them, have very beautiful 
seeds, each furnished with a very long graceful feather of 
white silk with which to fly away to seek their moist 
nursery. 

The parts of willow herbs are all in fours ; four petals, 
four divisions of the calyx, four seeds, twice four stamens; 
and so it is with the bright-coloured yet grave bell that is 



144 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

ringing in all gardens, almost in all houses, and taking 
its part in the last chimes of summer. 

The fuchsia I mean, with its deep red calyx, and the 
fine violet petals rolled round the long stamens, one of the 
most richly coloured of flowers. It grows wild in Mexico, 
where its crimson flowers hang down from very large 
bushes, high up on the wild volcanic lulls. The first that 
was ever brought to England was a present from a sailor 
to his old mother who lived in some small street in 
London, and kept it in a flower-pot in her window. 
Much must the old woman have delighted in watching 
the unfolding of the long crimson drops into the drooping 
blossoms, so unlike all that she had ever seen before, and 
putting her in mind how her son had remembered her 
and thought of her in lands so far away over the broad 
sea. But she was not the only person who admired the 
flowers, though no one could have loved them so much ; 
a lady stopped at the sight of what was so beautiful and 
uncommon, looked at the blossoms, and heard their story. 
She went to a great gardener to try to find this new plant 
there, and described it to him, but he had not seen one, 
nor even heard of such a flower. He asked the direction 
to the old woman, went to her, and offered half a guinea, 
one guinea, two guineas for the beautiful plant, but stiU 
the mother would not part with it till he had promised 
her that the first young plant he could raise should be 
hers. He took it home, pulled off every blossom, cut it 
up into slips, and put them into a forcing frame, where 
they quickly grew and flourished. And soon fuchsia 
plants at two guineas a piece were in the grandest drawing- 
rooms in London, but the most prized of aU was that 
which came back to the old mother. She had her share 
of the profits too, and when the sailor son came home from 



XXIII WILLOW HERB AND FUCHSIA 145 

his next voyage lie found that his present had provided 
for the comfort of her old age, as well as cheered her in his 
ahsence. 

This was a long time ago, and the fachsia thus ohtained 
is now called ''the old-fashioned fuchsia," and not often 
found except in the gardens of old houses, it is rather 
larger and more delicate than those we usually see, which 
are for the most part seedlings. 

There are several large new sorts, but they have in 
general lost their grace while becoming larger, and their 
colours are not so good and deep as those of the smaller 
and hardier ones. I suppose it is an acknowledgment of 
the beauty of the fuchsia that it is a very favourite shape 
for ornaments, such as brooches, pins, eta, which, how- 
ever, only serve to show us how miserable and clumsy 
are man's best imitations of the wonderful works of God. 
How well I remember dajrs when it was our delight to 
keep shops in the garden — grocers, dressmakers, jewellers, 
eta — with flowers, leaves, and grass to represent the 
goods. We all wanted to have fuchsias in our shops 
because they were so pretty, and I think we used them 
very ill, for they were ear-rings at the jeweller's, and 
artificial flowers at the milliner's, and at last our little 
tailor decided "that they were a very curious sort of 
trousers," and so they figured in her shop. 

A fachsia is a very puzzling word to spell till one 
learns that it was called after a German botanist named 
what would be Fox in English, but is Fuchs in Gterman. 

To these must be added the Enchanter's nightshade, a 
very pretty little plant, with a long spike of delicate white 
flowers and pink buds, but only two stamens. It comes 
up as a weed in gardens, but I do not know the reason of 
its name. 



146 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. XXIII 

Those pretty delicate annual flowers, the darkias, 
belong to this family, and another relation is the evening 
primrose, which opens its lemon-coloured flowers in the 
twilight All have those beautiful curling two- cleft 
8tigma& 



CHAPTER XXIV 

THE PASSION FLOWER 

The next plant returns to the rule of five. It is one 
tliat lias a glorious name, the beautiful Passion Flower. 
It is a South American plant, but wiU grow freely in 
England, so that even cottage walls may be wreathed 
with its climbing stems, twisting tendrils, and hand-like 
leaves. It is so curious that I will give you a dose de- 
scription of it, which you may compare with the flower 
when it is in blossom. The calyx does not, as usual, form 
the bud ; there are three large pale leaves, or bracts, just 
outside, which fold over the blossom and hide its mysteries 
till they are ready to unclose. Within these are the corolla 
and calyx, each consisting of Ave divisions, and so much 
of the same colour that we should take them all alike for 
petals if botanists did not tell us to think otherwise ; the 
calyx leaflets may be distinguished from the petals by an 
odd little horn growing on the back of each. Within is 
the especial glory of the flower, a circlet of fleshy threads, 
spreading out like rays, and marked with brilliant blue, 
black, crimson, and white. Some sorts have ring within 
ring, growing gradually shorter, till they end round the 
column in the centre, where on one stem, as it may be 
called, grow both stamens and pistils, five yellow anthers 



148 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

arranged in a circle, and not, like other anthers, opening 
their boxes of pollen downwards, but holding them up- 
wards. Why is this ? How is the pollen to reach the 
germ if it is not as usual poured down ? 

There is a fruit-bearing passion flower with large yellow 
berries, and there are purple and crimson sorts. It is 
curious that while the fruit is harmless the root is 
poisonous. 

Climbing and weak like the passion flowers are the 
whole tribe of Gourds, but. they have the habit of keep- 
ing all their stamens in one blossom, all their pistils 
in another, and the pollen is carried by the bees, who 
like to revel in their yellow depths. They all have soft 
trailing stems of marvellously quick growth, large pinnate 
leaves, and blossoms generally yellow, of one petal divided 
into Ave ; in the stamen-bearing ones containing three 
filaments and anthers closely joined, like the brotherhood 
class ; and the pistil-bearing perched above a great swell- 
ing germ,, which in time becomes a very large fruit 

Here in England we are obliged to raise them under 
glasses, as the heat is not sufficient to bring them forward ; 
and here, for want of winds and bees to waft the pollen, 
gardeners are obliged to do it themselves, and carry the 
stamens to the pistil, before the fruit can be formed. 

The cucumber is the most grown and most useful ; 
next to this comes the melons, handsome round fruits, 
full of fleshy pulp, most cool and delicious, with its sharp 
taste. The water-melon is full of juice, which is most 
precious to people in hot countries. In Italy men set up 
booths with shelves of water-melons, slices of which they 
sell to the thirsty people, who enjoy them exceedingly ; 
and in the East they are much prized. It seems a special 
pift of Providence that with very little water these im- 



XXIV THE PASSION FLOWER 149 

mense plants should grow up bearmg sucli a profusion of 
the coolest fruit 

Sometimes the gourd plants are trained over porches 
and trellises so as to make a cool and beautiful bower. 
You remember how Jonah rejoiced in the gourd that grew 
over him, most likely supplying him with food and drink 
as well as shelter, and how he was grieved when the worm 
at its root withered it at once away in a single night 

Here the first touch of frost is as effectual as the worm, 
and our great vegetable marrows that the day before 
threatened to take the whole garden for themselves with 
their noble branches and great leaves and mighty fruit 
are, on the October morning, nothing but a spectacle of 
yellow ruin and decay, showing indeed how '^ the creature 
is subject to vanity." 

Some kinds of gourds have a rind which becomes very 
hard, and these are very useful to the Hindoos and many 
other dwellers in hot countries. They scrape out the 
inside, fill the rind up with sand to prevent it from con- 
tracting, and set it in the sun to dry, when it becomes a 
vessel capable of holding water, and often called a cala- 
bash. Another kind is called the bottle-gourd, because 
by tying a band round the fruit when young it is made 
to grow into the shape of a bottle. For many reasons, 
therefore, these great fruits, though all kinds are not 
equally wholesome for food, are very precious, and are 
much grown in the East You know the prophet Isaiah 
speaks of the *^ daughter of Zion being left like a lodge in 
a garden of cucumbers," meaning the little hut built in a 
field of melons where a man might be set to watch lest 
they should be stolen. As lonely stood Jerusalem when 
all her surrounding villages had been destroyed. 

The pumpkin is a fine handsome gourd, often marbled 



150 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

with patterns of green. In America it is mucli used for 
cattle, and I believe a horse at an inn door wiU eat a 
pumpkin when our horses would be having hay. A 
pumpkin pie, too, is one of the favourite dishes ; it is 
what we should call a pudding — ^there is no crust over it, 
the pumpkin being mashed up and used with egg and 
milk as we use sago or arrowroot in making a pudding. 

Pumpkins make us think of Cinderella's coach, and 
there is another funny story of them with which I wiU 
end my chapter. It is rather old, but perhaps you 
may not know it An idle man once lay down under an 
oak tree and began thinking with himself how much 
better he could settle the world if he had the power. For 
instance, what a pity it was to see such a fine lordly tree 
as the oak bearing such a wretched little finiit as the 
acorn ; it ought to be ashamed of itself, while there was 
the pumpkin going crawling on the ground with those 
large handsome fruits. For his part, he thought acorns 
were good enough for such plants, and that pumpkins 
ought to grow on oak treea 

Just then he felt a tap on his nose ; he jumped up in 
a hurry, and found it was an acorn that had fallen 
on him. "Oh !" cried he, "how lucky this was not a 
pumpkin !" 

You may have your laugh, and then think whether 
this fable does not show that when people dare to find 
fault with the wisdom of God's doings it is their own 
ignorance that is displayed. 

The climbers of the pentagon race have a very pretty 
relative here, with the same pinnate leaves, corkscrew 
tendrils, bright berries, green blossoms, and climbing 
stems ; the wild vine, or white bryony, which throws 
itself about on all the bushes within its reach and adorns 



XXIV THE PASSION FLOWER 151 

them with its graceful shoots. There is one which I have 
been watching all the summer creeping up a tail pink 
thorn, and it is now nearly at the top. 

There follow Begonias, hot-house plants from America^ 
with curious highly-coloured onendded leaves. You may 
generally meet them at a flower show of aU manner of 
shades of red or yellow. 



CHAPTER XXV 

PRICKS AND UMBRELLAS 

Mors many-petalled flowers are to come, the great Cactus 
race, sometimes called meLon-thistLea I have only known 
them in greenhouses or windows, where they unfold their 
rich scarlet or pink blossoms on their ungainly, leafless, 
prickly stems, bristling with tufts that seem as if they 
had been pulled out of a tooth-brush, and stinging the 
unwary finger. The finest we see is the Cactus Grandi- 
florus, a very handsome red flower, with an exquisite tinge 
of purple within, and a long tongue of white stamens 
clustered close together ; or there is the pink kind, and a 
second pink one, that creeps about in long ropes covered 
with bristles, and very seldom does its owners the favour 
of blossoming. At gardeners' shops we now and then see 
odd-looking round things, like little melons, stuck alL over 
with tufts of hoary spikes, like vegetable hedgehogs, and 
now and then, by good luck, bearing one small pink 
blossom in the centre of each tuft ; or perhaps some kind 
friend has brought you home, from the Pantheon bazaar, 
one of these droll little wonders, growing in the smallest 
of red flower -pots, and looking more like a thing in a 
doll's house than a living plant ; but all this gives us very 
little notion of what a cactus really is — no, and we should 



OHAP. xxv PRICKS AND UMBRELLAS 153 

not be mucli nearer the truth even if we had seen them 
growing in the beautiful rocky gardens of the Scilly Mes, 
where they hang down with their rich red blossoms over 
almost perpendicular faces of rock. 

As feir as I can make out, a cactus, in its own tropical 
regions of South America, is like a vegetable boa-con- 
strictor, covered with porcupine's quills, hog's bristles, or 
wasp stings, in addition to the most magnificent crimson, 
scarlet, or yellow flowers. Some of them are so large and 
thick that they produce solid wood, and they hang from 
tree to tree in matted, tangled ropes, twisted in and out 
so thickly as to be perfectiy impenetrable. The axe of 
man is soon wearied out in struggling with them ; and 
the wild animals themselves cannot force their way through, 
but can only pass through lanes, as it were, in the forest, 
which their own constant tread has worn down, while even 
jaguars cannot descend through the tangled mass below the 
branches of the treea Two missionary settiements, but 
half a mile apart, situated on different small streams run- 
ning into the same river, have not the least communication 
with each other through the jungle, and the only way of 
going from one to another is by descending one stream 
and ascending the other, a distance of eight or nine miles. 

In India fences are made with cactus, and the unwary 
who have tried to get through them have come out stuck 
completely over with spikes, pinning the clothes and even 
boots fast down to the flesh. In fact, as a fortification 
for a garden, the cactus must be acknowledged to be 
superior even to our own holly hedge. Of the same race 
is the great night-blowing cereus, a rich white flower that 
only opens by night, and with- its flame-coloured stamens, 
as it unfolds in its own flowery land of Mexico, looks 
almost like a great lamp. 



154 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

It would be liard to love a cactus for its own sake, 
though many love it for putting them in mind of some 
friendly window where the red blossoms have peered over 
the white blind, and kind voices and cheerful faces have 
dwelt ; but the staring flower and unshady stem have few 
personal charms. 

There follow it the sun-basking flowers or Mesem- 
bryanthemums — dreadful word to look at, but only mean- 
ing noon-flower, a thing with a star blossom, and thick, 
fat, fleshy leaves, that hang over rocks and walls in the 
sun. 

Both these hot, high-coloured sunny things are great 
contrasts to their neighbours, the quiet, homely umbrella 
carriers, or umbelliferous plants, so called from the Latin 
word vmbella, an umbel, or little shade. 

They are not, however, by any means the most shady 
of the vegetable tribe, for few are of any great height or 
size, and their leaves are so deeply cut and carved, so 
slender and so branching, that even a parasol-ant would 
hardly be sheltered under one. They have nothing of 
the umbrella but the spokes. 

First, there rises from the ground one tall straight 
stem, often hollow, and sometimes either ribbed, curiously 
spotted, or covered with hairs. The leaves, spreading and 
elaborately pinnate, grow for the most part close to the 
rootj and a few more grow at the joints of the stem. 

Each stem is terminated by an umbel, that is to say, 
five, six, seven, or eight little slender branches, aU grow- 
ing out from it, as their common centre, and all of equal 
length, like the ribs of a fan. From each of these there 
springs a second set of lesser spokes, each of which bears 
a small flower, with five petals, five stamens, and two 
pistils. 



XXV PRICKS AND UMBRELLAS 155 

These flowers are usually white, yellow, or green, and 
so much alike are the plants of the tribe in general' 
appearance that it is not easy to distinguish one from the 
other. Almost all have an oval fruit, which splits into 
two halves when ripe and becomes brown. The prettiest 
seed among them is that of the shepherd's needle, a low 
plant, which you may easily find among the com, with 
some of its umbels still bearing white flowers, whilst others 
stretch out the long sharp -pointed beaks of their seeds, 
from which they have taken the name of Shepherd's 
needle, or Venus's comb. 

Umbelliferous plants usually are found in temperate 
climates, and, strangely enough, they are in most cases 
unwholesome in their native state, though, when cultivated, 
they become very valuable vegetables. Carrot, fennel, 
parsley and celery, all have wild brothers, which it would 
be very dangerous to eat, and even our garden celery is 
only made wholesome by being kept in the dark, half- 
buried in the earth, which, though it makes it very pale 
and yellow for want of the light of the sun, deprives it 
at the same time of its poisonous qualities. 

Carrots have by diligent cultivation been brought to 
be those large bright orange-coloured roots which look so 
tempting when sUced into brotL Their leaves, too, are 
remarkably pretty, and in the days of the shops of which 
I told you before, the carrot-bed was our best warehouse 
for silk dresses, as the variety of colours, purple, crimson, 
scarlet, yellow, and green, all blended together, was such 
as no other plant furnished. 

Caraway seeds, which we find in seed-cakes, belong to 
an umbelliferous plant ; and that best of sweetmeats, 
angelica, is made from the stem of another which grows 
in wet places. 



156 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

Earth-nuts, wliich all country cliildren are perpetually- 
seeking in vain, lured on by the legend of some elder cousin, 
who once dug up a beauty, are the tubers belonging to 
a very pretty umbelliferous plant, with star-like blossoms 
and delicate leaves, and a fibrous root, with a tuber that 
unskilled hands generally leave behind. 

Hogweed has rough hairy pinnate leaves that children 
often bring home fix)m the hedges to deHght the pig with, 
and late in the year it bears large umbels, so thick and 
close that they make quite hollow cups. 

Cow-parsley is a delicate pretty plant, and its purple 
stem in early spring, fluted like a pencil-case, and covered 
with small white hairs, is one of the most beautiful of un- 
regarded common things. 

The largest of the tribe that is common among us 
is the tail poisonous hemlock, whose ribbed and spotted 
stem is so well known to village boys as being capable 
of being made into a sort of musical instrument for the 
perpetrating of horrible noises, causing great exertion to 
themselves, and making their sisters stop their ears and 
run away. An immense kind, called the chandelier hem- 
lock, has lately been brought to our gardens from America. 
It is like the common sort seen through a magnifier ; 
it is to common hemlocks what the Mississippi is to other 
rivers. 

The gout-weed has handsome dark green smooth leaves 
and a creeping root, very hard to turn out when once it 
has made its way into a garden. It used to prevail to a 
great extent in my own little nook ; and no wonder, you 
wiU say, when you hear the way I managed it, which was 
so silly that I can hardly believe any child could have 
thought of it 

" Mamma, I am going to give up half my garden to 



XXV PRICKS AND UMBRELLAS 157 

tliat weed and see if it will not be contented with 
that" 

Well, I was a bad gardener ; but it will be well for us 
if we do not treat the gardens within in the same fashion, 
by letting some one fault go on unchecked, for it will as 
surely eat up and ruin our hearts as the gout-weed did 
my poor little piece of ground. 

The sanicle, a curious plant growing in woods, has 
umbel -forming little balls of brownish white flowers, 
and is the last of the tribe that seems to be worth 
noticing. 

You might be tempted to think that the cornel tree 
was umbellate, but it has not the regularity of the true 
umbrella, and has irregularly-formed heads, called cymes. 
The commonest sort is the dog-wood, which has little 
white blossoms, rather shabby, and dark purple berries. 
Its beauty is in autumn, when its leaves turn to all kinds 
of colours — ^very dark purple, almost black, reds, and 
yellows, framing the hedge with new glories in decay. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

HONEYSUCKLE AND ELDER 

We have gone tlirougli most of our acquaintance of the 
many-petalled flowers with stamens on the calyx, and 
now we begin on those which have aU their corolla in one, 
so that when it drops it looks for a little while as if the 
whole flower had fallen. We start with the honeysuckle, 
or woodbine, far from a regular flower, though constant to 
the rule of five. Delightful honeysuckle ! a dweller 
indeed by our paths and homes, and a constant long- 
enduring friend, its stem becoming hard wood, and grow- 
ing on and on tOl perhaps generation after generation 
have been bom and died within the house where it spreads 
and luxuriates, and the children who have gathered its 
fragrant blossoms have grown old, still owning them as 
an unchanged part of their home. 

A constant, early, hardy friend it is, its twin leayes 
coming out first of all, even in the midst of winter, 
bringing cheerful promise of spring, and hanging on the 
bare boughs through many a return of cold and storm, 
bearing the chiU crystals of hoar frost as merrily as if 
they were but dewdrops of a summer morning. A con- 
stant friend, indeed, as many a hazel stick can testify, so 
constant that it becomes part of the very wood itself, 



CHAP. XXVI HONEYSUCKLE AND ELDER 159 

actually one witli it, assuming the same bark, and giving 
it a strange twisted, whorled appearance, as if a snake had 
twined round it Most boys have met with these twisted 
sticks, and in that case the friendship has generally ended 
in the death of both, for who could resist cutting such 
a precious walking-stick, unless, indeed, it was in a wood 
where such cutting was forbidden! 

There are two sorts of wild honeysuckle ; one is aU 
white outside with the interior of a pale glazy cream 
colour, and with leaves making a cup round the stem. It 
blooms in the autumn. The other is red on the outside, 
and has leaves in pairs. They are alike in all the main 
points, such as the long, pin-like pistil, the five slender 
stamens, the corolla with its very long throat, the little 
drop of perfumy nectar at the bottom, and the top deeply 
cut into two divisions one long and thread-like, the other 
broad and notched into four scallops, so as to keep up 
the pentagon character. Then look at the bud, how the 
wide part is doubled down, and the slender linear division 
closes down over it, with a red edge marking its form, buds 
and fully opened blossoms all standing in graceful, bend- 
ing, diverging positions on the common receptacle, guarded 
a little way down by leaves embracing the stem, one of 
the most elegant, the sweetest, and most charming of all 
our planta The fruit is a red, glossy berry, which you 
may often find in clusters in the winter. 

There is besides the French honeysuckle, with small 
sweet blossoms out of very red buds and long red shoots ; 
and the pretty variegated Chinese honeysuckle, whose few 
blossoms are delicious. 

Of the same tribe is the pretty white Snowberry with 
its little pink flowers in pairs. It came originally from 
Canada, but it likes our climate so well, and has been 



160 THE HERB OP THE FIELD CHAP. 

planted in so qiany woods for plieasants to eat, that it may 
soon be looked upon as being naturalised among us. 

The elder tribe has cymes irregularly branched, and 
the smaU white blossoms have three stigmas instead of 
only two, and their fruit is a single hard seed, enclosed in 
a berry. 

Elder blossoms are delicious in smell, as you pass along 
some shady lane, where they raise those fine broad flat 
cymes, valued by the makers of elder flower water, and 
afterwards bearing dark rich purple berries so useful 
for making elder wine, while little boys have scarcely 
less liking for the tree, the branches of which may 
furnish them with pop-guns when they have pushed 
out the soft pitL This pith is so large that we have a 
good opportunity of seeing in it what plants are made of. 
If you look at a thin slice of it, or at the pith of a rush 
in a magnifier, you will see that they are something like 
a honeycomb, divided into six-sided compartments or cells. 
These cells, tiny as they are, are larger in the elder pith 
than in almost any other plant, for they are found in 
every vegetable that grows, in stalk, leaf, and blossom ; 
the whole is a tissue of these minute cells, formed of a 
thin skin, or membrane, colourless itself, but holding in 
each ceU a drop or grain, green, red, blue, or whatever 
may be the colour we see in flower or leaf. How beauti- 
fully arranged these little cases must be, to give the 
delicate shading in one flower, and the sharply -defined 
tints in another — a blush rose, and a tulip for instance. 
It is the white shining membrane through which we see 
the colour, that makes flowers have their satiny polished 
look, and indeed that polished surface is of great use in 
turning off wet, being such that dirt cannot stick to it. 
Inside the petals the colour is generally liquid ; in the 



XXVI HONEYSUCKLE AND ELDER 161 

leaves there is a little grain in each cell, lying in the 
midst of a green liquid, which dries up as autumn comes, 
while the grain turns yellow, red, or brown. 

A good deal like the elder in appearance are the white 
blossoms of the wayfaring tree, so called because it grows 
by roadsides, and cheers the eye of the dusty traveller. 
It has large ribbed leaves covered with short white cotton, 
and its berries when half ripe are most beautiful, being 
a pale waxy yellow, shaded on one side with deepening 
red. Of a bright clear scarlet are the berries of the pretty 
wild Guelder rose, which blossoms in a very peculiar 
manner. All the outermost flowers in the cyme are large, 
and of a much brighter white than those within ; but on 
examination you will find that they contain no stamens 
or pistil, and only serve as an ornamental border to the 
smaller flowers within, which are perfect in aU. their parts. 
The Guelder rose, cultivated in shrubberies, and called 
by children the snow-ball tree, bears nothing but these 
imperfect flowers, which, instead of being merely an edging, 
occupy every branch of the cyme, and form those beautiful 
white globes, so brightly white and so soft Most delight- 
M playthings are those summer snow-balls, coming with 
Whitsuntide, and joined in all our pleasant remembrances 
of May and June, and long warm evenings, when they 
look so white and moon-like in the midst of the dark 
foliage of some shady path. The snow-ball tree is said to 
have been first brought from Flanders, and to have taken 
the name of Guelder rose from the duchy of Gueldres. 

Laurustinus, gay even in winter, with evergreen leaves, 
pink buds, and white blossoms, is a native of the south of 
Europe and north of Africa. 



M 



CHAPTER XXVII 

LIPPED FLOWERS 

The Figwort tribe follows, led off by tbe Englisb glory 
of tbe woods in late summer. 

In tbe soutb of England the foxglove peals of bells 
have in general ceased to ring before tbe 1st of August 
The foxglove, the special fairy flower, called in Ireland 
fairy-cap, and where the little elves are said to hide them- 
selves when a human foot approaches to disturb their 
evening dances, and I believe the English name is properly 
folks'-gloves, the fairy folks. Beautiful foxgloves ! the 
purple bells hanging in profusion on their tall proud 
stalks, growing in whole multitudes on the sunny dry 
bank, or lifting tall spires among the gray dark ruined 
walls ! how fair and bright they are, and yet it is half 
sad to greet them, for they first come to tell us of the 
decay of summer. 

They are loved by little children too for the loud 
popping noise made by enclosing the air within them and 
then cracking them, for which reason they are apt to call 
them poppies, though this is a silly name, and does not 
belong to them. 

The foxglove is one of the largest of a numerous tribe 
of flowers, called Labiate or lipped, and therefore its parts 



CHAP. XXVII LIPPED FLOWERS 163 

should be examined closely. Its coroUa is of one petal, 
with a narrow throat fastened into a five-cleft calyx, there 
is one pistil divided at the top, and a large round germ. 
The stamens are four, two long and two short, and it is 
this which is the chief distinction of the tribe. 

Those of the foxglove are bent in the middle ; the out- 
side of the corolla is purple, the anthers are of a very 
pretty bright delicate yellow, spotted with dark brown ; 
the throat of the flower is shaded with white, and speckled 
with dark red spots, sometimes bordered with white 
rings, with long downy hairs growing out of the spots ; 
the pistil is deep purple ; the calyx and leaves are of a 
soft light green, and altogether there are few English 
plants so handsome. 

Another of the tribe is the snapdragon, with its odd 
red and yeUow, or white and yellow mouth, within the 
close-shut lips of which may be seen the two long and 
two short stamens, and the pistil like a tongue, and 
plenty of honey too, after which the bees creep into the 
little box, shut themselves in, and then come backwards 
out, all over yellow pollen. The great snapdragon grows 
on the old town or castle wall which once saw battles 
and sieges ; its relations are humbler, the small ones live 
in dry fields ; the taU yeUow toad-flax, with its sulphur- 
coloured upper lip and orange-coloured lower one, and its 
long spur, abides in dry hedges ; the ivy-leaved lilac toad- 
flax clothes the bare rock, and the brown and yellow sort 
creeps in the fallow field. 

The beautiful blue skuU-cap grows by the water-side, 
its seed-vessel is really like a skull, and that of the 
garden monkey-flower is not unlike a monkey's face. 
The musk, with its strong scent, is the smaUest of this 
family of monkey-flowers, it is very necessary to say, or 



XXVII LIPPED FLOWERS 165 

been handed down by tradition witbout books from 
many ages past 

Many fatal mistakes these poor old people must have 
made, and very thankful we may be that all the benefits 
of good and superior care have come amongst us, more 
easily obtained by the poorest now than then by the 
richest and greatest 

Most of them come rather late in the summer. Among 
them are the red and the white eyebrighta The red is 
not beautiful, it grows by roadsides, and is aU dingy red 
with a pale pink blossom. The white is a bit of the 
embroidery of heaths and downs, a beautiful little white 
stitch in the pattern, with its clear white blossom prettily 
marked with yellow and purple. 

Two plants somewhat alike in flower follow — the 
yeUow cow-wheat and yellow rattle. It is said that 
yellow cow-wheat grows in woods only that have never 
been disturbed. It has dark smooth stems, long thin brown- 
ish leaves, and pale yellow flowers. The yeUow rattle 
is in damp meadows and bogs. Its name is given because 
its ovary swells into a loose purse where the seeds rattle, 
but it is also called St Peter's Wort, because to each flower 
there is a bract, curiously jagged like the comb of a 
cock. 

Eed rattle is of two kinds, one large and tall with pink 
flowers and a branching stem, the other a little pink bit, 
of the same embroidery as the eyebright 

Then there is figwort^ a tall plant with a square 
hollow stem, and dingy dark red blossoms, far from 
beautiful 

And very curious is the broom rape, a brown thing 
with nothing flower-like about it but the four yellow 
anthera The root is a succession of yellow scales, and 



i 



164 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

one might be in the case of the gentleman who sent to 
BrazH for aU the sort of monkey-flowers his friend could 
obtain, but unfortunately made the important blunder of 
leaving out the word flowers, and in consequence received 
a whole ship load of chattering, grinning monkeys from 
the American woods, with a message that there were a 
few scarce ones to follow by the next opportunity. The 
yellow monkey-flower grows so easily that it is sometimes 
found quite wild. Gardens possess, too, the taU, long, red 
penstemon, with Ave stamens indeed, but one only a mock 
one, for it never carries an anther. 

All these have a large high seed-vessel ; but there are 
labiate flowers proper, which have only four naked brown 
seeds at the bottom of the calyx. To this tribe belong 
the herbs which have the strongest scent, the lavender 
and rosemary, basH and marjoram. The sage, which 
has but two stamens, branched however so as to carry 
four anthers, is one of this tribe, with all the other Salvias, 
less useful, but fax handsomer, scarlet, blue, and crimson, 
and the wild clary of the woods. Nor must we forget 
thyme, sweet thyme, both wild and tame, beloved by 
bees, the delicious beds of which are so soft, and send 
forth such a fragrant smell when trodden on ; the basil 
thyme, too, in the fallow field, deep blue, with a pretty 
white crescent on its lower lip. Almost all this tribe 
have a strong scent, and are often very useful There is 
the white and the red archangel or dead-nettle, so named 
from their nettle-shaped leaves, and with so sweet a drop 
of honey at the bottom of their throat The purple 
prunella or self-heal, and the creeping ground-ivy, aU 
used to be very highly valued when doctors were 
few and the chief mediciners of the villages were 
"cullers of simples," whose knowledge of herbs had 



XXVII LIPPED FLOWERS 165 

been handed down by tradition without books from 
many ages past 

Many fatal mistakes these poor old people must have 
made, and very thankful we may be that all the benefits 
of good and superior care have come amongst us, more 
easily obtained by the poorest now than then by the 
richest and greatest 

Most of them come rather late in the summer. Among 
them are the red and the white eyebrighta The red is 
not beautiful, it grows by roadsides, and is all dingy red 
with a pale pink blossom. The white is a bit of the 
embroidery of heaths and downs, a beautiful little white 
stitch in the pattern, with its clear white blossom prettily 
marked with yellow and purple. 

Two plants somewhat alike in flower follow — the 
yeUow cow-wheat and yeUow rattle. It is said that 
yellow cow-wheat grows in woods only that have never 
been disturbed. It has dark smooth stems, long thin brown- 
ish leaves, and pale yellow flowers. The yellow rattle 
is in damp meadows and bogs. Its name is given because 
its ovary swells into a loose purse where the seeds rattle, 
but it is also called St Peter's Wort, because to each flower 
there is a bract, curiously jagged like the comb of a 
cock. 

Eed rattle is of two kinds, one lai^e and tall with pink 
flowers and a branching stem, the other a little pink bit, 
of the same embroidery as the eyebright 

Then there is flgwort^ a tall plant with a square 
hollow stem, and dingy dark red blossoms, far from 
beautiful 

And very curious is the broom rape, a brown thing 
with nothing flower-like about it but the four yellow 
anthera The root is a succession of yellow scales, and 



166 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. XXVII 

perches on the roots of furze and broom to suck their 
juices. A smaller sort lives on the roots of clover in like 
manner. These have capsules over their seeds. Other 
labiate plants have only four black seeds at the bottom of 
their calyx, quite uncovered. These are the white dead- 
nettle, or archangel, so called because it shows its white 
flowers and black stamens about Michaelmas Day, the 
yeUow dead-nettle or weasel-snout, the purple betony, the 
blue bugle, gray mint, and pale green wood-sage or 
germander. There is a beautiful deep blue sage not 
very common. Some people, when anything has gone 
into the eye, put in a seed of this sage to clear it out 

Most of the pot herbs belong to this tribe, as almost 
aU its plants are wholesome and have a strong aromatic 
or spicy smelL 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

TWO STAHENED FLOWERS 

Nearly related to the lipped flowers are some others 
that have only half their number of stamens, and do not 
form a gaping flower. These are the pretty tribe of 
veronica, tiny plants, with a corolla always four-cleft, with 
two divisions equal, and of the other two one much larger 
than the other. Their English name is speedwell, and a 
very pretty name it is, for such bright cheerful wayside 
flowers as they are, peeping out with their blue eyes under 
the dusty hedge to smile on the tired traveller, and give 
him a cheerful greeting to speed him well on his way. 
The largest English kind, the germander speedwell, is of 
the most lovely azure that I know in any flower. The 
common speedwell, with a small pale flower, is a very 
troublesome weed in gardens ; the water speedwell, or 
brooklime, with a fat fleshy stem, has a very pretty blue 
flower, and is no doubt known to watercress gatherers. 
The leaves of all, except the two water kinds, are cut like 
the edge of a saw, and covered with small white haira 
The capsule, or seed-vesseL is very prettily shaped, iust 
like a heart with a rib in the midi, dividing it^ two 
halves. There are a great many English sorts, and many 
more foreign ones, some of which are cultivated in gardens. 



168 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

The Latiii name, Veronica, means true image. I do not 
know why it was given to this little flower, but I like to 
think that it was thus intended to put us in mind that 
the true image of the greatness and goodness of God may 
be seen reflected in the marvellous structure of even so 
lowly a work as a little blue speedwell 

And growing in spikes with five- deft corollas and 
downy stamens are the mullein tribe, very woolly plants 
in general, leaves and aU covered with down, and the 
yellow blossoms in tall single spikes. The great white 
mullein has leaves nearly white with down, white furry 
stamens and red anthers ; the black mullein is likewise 
yellow flowered, but the down on the filaments is purple ; 
the moth mullein is the prettiest of aU, with yellow 
butterfly-like blossoms on a loose spike. It is often found 
in gardens ; sometimes, though rarely, wild. 

The bladderworts have yellow flowers with a long 
stem and two stamens. Their name comes from their 
leaves having little vessels scattered over them, which 
keep the plant buoyed up on the surface of the pool in 
which it grows till it has ripened its seed, when the plant 
sinks down. It is a cruel plant, for it makes itself a trap 
to little insects, also the young of fish, and feeds on them. 
Its cousin, the pretty purple butterwort, growing in bogs 
is more harmless. 

After some tribes of which we know nothing, here 
follows the sweet-scented verbena, with those most fragrant 
of all leaves, which are sometimes caUed lemon. It comes 
from Buenos Ayres, and its splendid brethren, the creep- 
ing verbenas, purple, crimson, or dazzling scarlet, are, I 
believe, Mexican, and form the pride of gardens in early 
autimm. But the most curious history of aU belongs to 
the little plain English verbena, a plant with insignificant 



XXVIII TWO STAMENED FLOWERS 169 

whitish lilac flowers, that is generally to be found in 
hedges by turnpike roads, in July or August, coated all 
over with dust Yervainy as it is called in English, 
played in ancient British days a most important part ; 
indeed, the Druideeses made as great a fuss with it as the 
Druids did with the mistletoe. The strangest thing was 
that they were never to touch it It was to be gathered 
at midnight, at the full of the moon, in this manner : a 
long string with a loop in it was thrown over the vervain, 
and the other end fastened to the left great toe of a young 
virgin, who was then to drag at it till she had uprooted 
it The eldest Druidess then received it in a cloth and 
carried it home, to use it for medicinal purposes and 
offerings to their gods. 

After Druidism had long been forgotten, vervain was 
still considered as full of healing virtues, and it always 
stood first among the herbs used by the old women who 
used to be the only doctors. 

The verbenas have a four-cleft coroUa, and sometimes 
two sometimes four stamens. 

After which we turn to the plantain or ribgrass, the 
prettiest kind of which is the ribwort plaintain, better 
known to country children by the name of knock-heada 
You see the reason of the name of ribwort in the broad 
ribs of the leaves, with their purplish pink stems ; and 
oh, the toughness of the stalks, so much easier to pull up 
from the root than to break. 

The head of blossom is very pretty; the little 
calyxes as black as jet, and very hard and lasting ; the 
corollas very small and brown, and coming out like the 
teazel, in bands, instead of aU at once ; the anthers cream- 
coloured, and the filaments very long, so that when in 
blossom the black head wears a most beautiful and grace- 



170 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

fill wreath of white dancing pearls or studs, I hardly 
know which to call them. 

I daresay you have often twisted and knocked the 
heads together, to try which has the strongest stalk, but I 
wonder whether you know how to make a knock-head 
basket ? Gather a good many of the longest and strongest 
you can find, pull off their pretty black heads, crowns 
and all, then take the stoutest of aU, and give it to some 
small brother or sister to hold at full length for yoiu 
Then take one of the others, bend it in the middle, and 
give it one twist round the first Oh, but we want 
another pair of hands, some other little person must come 
and hold the ends ; hold them tight while you twist 
another knock-head in the same way, and add the ends 
to the former one ; then another, another ; hold fast and 
be patient, little helpers, till some twenty or five -and - 
twenty have been put on, twisted in the middle, and the 
ends held in two bundlea Now get some string, tie one 
set of ends together, now tie the other, cut them even, 
then release the littie ones who had been holding the 
first stalk so patiently, and tie the ends of that together 
as neatly as you can for the handle, and now you have 
a knock-head basket. It will not stand, to be sure, for it 
has only a ridge at the bottom, and it will only last a 
day, but it wiU do very nicely to please the little ones 
and hold daisies ; and if you are as happy making them 
as I have been you will not be much to be pitied. 

Here is the hoary plantain, with leaves growing in 
a neat compact form close to the ground, tall stems with 
white cottony coats and tall heads, which have pretty 
pale pink filaments and white anthers ; there is also the 
buckshom plantain, or star of the earth, so called from its 
branching leaves, which spread out like a star in very 



XXVIII TWO STAMENED FLOWERS 171 

dry pastures. And the greater plantain, with very long 
heads and pink stamens, growing in the edges of fields 
and in the sides of cart-tracks, is well known to all keepers 
of caged birds, for the chirp and hop with which the 
canary or bullfinch receives it is a sufficient reward for 
all the pain the tough stem may give the fingers that 
uproot it 

The bay tree belongs to the next tribe ; I daresay 
you know it well, those fragrant evergreen leaves are so 
pleasant to gather and make a nice mark for the collect 
and psalms in a prayer-book. It grows wild in the south 
of Europe, and was greatly prized by the Greeks and 
Romans ; indeed it was of bay leaves that they wove the 
wreaths with which they crowned their victors, either in 
war, poetry, or their games of strength and skill. These 
are the corruptible crowns for which the Greeks strove 
and trained themselves with so much more self-denial 
and steadiness than the children of light are always ready 
to take for the crowns of glory that will never fisuie 
away. The Latin name of the bay is Laurus, and this 
has made a little confusion, as the laurel is quite a differ- 
ent plant ; but whenever you hear of people being 
crowned with laurel, like Julius Caesar, it is sure to mean 
with bay. 

The cinnamon tree is a sort of bay, which grows 
plentifully in Ceylon, and its light shining evergreen 
leaves are most beautiful in the woods. It is the inner 
bark that we use to flavour puddings, and the seed, when 
boiled, yields an oil that hardens into white cakes and is 
made into candlea The camphor tree, another of the 
same family, is found in China and Borneo, and the white 
lumps of fragrant refreshing camphor are obtained from 
its leaves by distilling them. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

CROSSWORTS 

All the plants in this tribe follow the rule of four, but 
still have only one four-cleft petal Though the Valerians 
often have only three anthers, it is because one stamen is 
imperfect There are three 8ort& One, dark red, making 
a grand banner to adorn old castle walls or rocks by the 
seaside. Qreat Valerian is of a pale flesh colour, and likes 
bogs and river sides. It has pretty feathery leaves, and 
what is curious is that cats are very fond of it, and like 
to roU and tumble and purr over it in perfect ecstasy. 
Lastly, Small Valerian is a lesser likeness of its big 
brother, and whiter. There is also a very small kinsman 
of Valerian known as com salad, or lambWettuce, grow- 
ing in stubble, with a much-forked stem and little heads 
of white flower. I do not know that lambs are specially 
fond of it, or whether it is good with lamb. 

The next are a set called crossworts, with all their 
parts divided in fours ; a stem in an exact square, leaves 
at regular intervals, growing in twice fours, a calyx in four 
divisions, a corolla likewise in fours, four stamens, half 
four cells to the germ, and four seeds. 

The largest of these crossworts is the sweet woodruff, 
with its pretty white stars of flowers, and the leaves that 



CHAP. XXIX CROSSWORTS 173 

remain sweet so long after they are gathered. It has 
many relations, with very small flowers and a profusion 
of them ; the white and yellow lady's-bed-straw, which 
you may find in quantities along the lanes in the latter 
part of the summer, and there is a pretty lilac sort some- 
whatlai^er, which ^rows in garden^ wither it has been 
brought from Persia, and which is apt to grow and spread 
much too fast 

There is also tl&e cliders, cleavers, or goose-grass, which 
everybody knows and everybody dreads, so thickly are its 
long, weak, trailing stems, its nanpw leaves and round seed 
vessels, stuck with little tiny hooks, which, when once 
they have a hold, seem as if they would never loose it 
again, and when you pull them off in one place catch 
hold in another. 

Woe to the silk fringes which venture into a hedge 
with cliders, for the little round balls roll themselves in 
so tight that fringe and all must come away to get them 
out; and even our spaniel's long silky ears often come 
home so thickly stuck and knotted with them that much 
puUing and tugging from us, and many a little remon- 
strating squeak on his part, come to pass before they look, 
as they ought to do, like his own beautiful flowing locks. 

Cliders have a very minute white flower ; I believe 
the prox)er name is cleavers, because they cleave so fast 
They are very good food for young turkeys when chopped 
up with chives and egg ; indeed, in former days great virtues 
were attributed to them, especially the cure of the ear- 
ache, and bites of vipers and spiders, K ever a spider 
bites you, pray try to cure it with cliders. My old botany 
book also says that Dioscorides observes that the shepherds 
make use of it to strain their milk through. I wish 
Dioscorides had also told us how they managed to do so. 



174 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

These tiny English crossworts have very notable rela- 
tives. The bed-straw itself has been used to cure fits ; 
but it has a cousin which grew wild in Arabia, and was 
first found to be valuable in Abyssinia, the strange country 
that lies south of Egypt There is a province there 
named Caffa, whence the red cherry-like berries of this 
crosswort were gathered, the two beans within them 
roasted and ground, and a drink made of them which 
refreshed people and helped to keep Ihem awake when 
they were sleepy. 

In the fifteenth century, that is to say about the time 
that the battle of Agincourt was fought, an Arab sheik 
brought a quantity of it to Aden. He had four names, 
very hard to speak or spell, so we will not trouble our- 
selves about them, and he brought all his friends to drink 
this caffa berry, or coffee, as it came to be called. 

At first the Arab mollahs — ^who are instead of clergy 
to the Mahometans — said that to drink coffee was as bad 
as drinking wine, which was forbidden ; but when it was 
found that no one became tipsy on coffee they allowed it 
to be used, and the best coffee is still grown at Mocha in 
Arabia. No Turk or Arab receives a visit, or even has a 
customer in his shop, without offering a pipe and a cup of 
coffee — a curious little cup without a handle in a little 
stand. 

About a hundred and fifty years later a great army of 
Turks came and tried to conquer Vienna, the capital of 
Austria, and brought the city to such distress that the 
people had to eat cats, which they called roof hares. 
However, at last the King of Poland came, beat the 
Turks, and drove them away, so that they left all their 
tents and their stores ; guns and powder and provisions 
of all kinds were to be found in quantitiea There was a 



XXIX 



CROSSWORTS 175 



great deal of cofiEee, and the Viennese liked it so much 
that they sent for more, and coffee-houses began to be set 
up in all the great towns in Europe. And a capital drink 
it is on a cold morning ! 

When the West Indian Islands were found the settlers 
thought coffee would be sure to grow there, as they are as 
hot as Arabia. In 1717 the French sent out some plants 
in pots to their island of Martinique ; but on the way 
there was a dead calm, and as the way to use steam had 
not been found out, the ship could not go on. The 
fresh water in the casks was nearly drunk up, each man 
had a very little served out to him, and there was none 
for the poor coffee-plants. One died after another. But 
the gentleman in whose charge they were was true to his 
trust He bore aU the pain and misery of thirst to save 
one of his coffee-plants, and gave the little bush his own 
share away from his parched mouth ; and the plant lived 
to reach the island, and all the coffee grown all over 
America sprang from that one plant I This, and Ceylon 
coffee, is what we chiefly use, for Mocha is too dear for 
most people. 

Were you ever weak and poorly ? And did the doctor 
say you should have a tonic to take three times a day, 
and was not the tonic very bitter and disagreeable ? 

You cannot hate it more than a poor Spaniard once 
liated the water he had to drink. He was out with a 
party seeking gold in South America soon after the dis- 
covery of that great continent. He fell ill, and his 
comrades would not wait for him or carry him on. So 
they left him behind them, lying on the ground near a 
pool of water, thinking it might slake his thirst till he 
died. But the poor man found the water quite bitter — 
so bitter that nothing but his terrible fever thirst would 



176 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

have made liim touch it He could not help sipping it 
again and again. He feU asleep, woke, felt better, drank 
again, slept again, and by and by was quite cured. 

Then he saw that a tree had tumbled into the pool, 
and its yellow bark had come off and mixed with the 
water. It was the quinine tree. The good Qod has set 
in the hot lands, most apt to cause fevers and agues, the 
very tree which cures them best. The blossom is one of 
the four-deft sort, growing in cymes, but it is the bark 
that is precious in giving strength to a worn-out frame 
and checking the fevers of the tropics. These bitter 
waters have saved many a Uf e. 

There are thirty-four species of scabious, but only three 
which come much in our way — ^two in the heaths and 
woods and one in the garden. 

The larger English scabious is a tall straggling plant, 
growing in ill-kept hedges, wild rough ground, and barren 
pastures. The leaves are of a pale colour, covered with 
short rough hairs, and variously cut, more or less deeply, 
and the stems are strong and irregularly branched, the 
blossoms are of a pale cloudy blue, almost gray ; the calyx 
consists of a number of long narrow leaflets lapping one 
over the other, but each flower within has its own proper 
calyx, consisting of little hard chaffjr points growing out 
of the germ. The germs are hard four-sided wedges, the 
points of which are all packed together beneath, while the 
upper spreading parts bear the four stamens. The 
anthers are the prettiest part of the flower, being of a 
bright blue, a very uncommon colour in anthers, which, 
as you may have observed, are almost always of some 
shade of yellow. The corolla is of one petal, irregularly 
cut, and sometimes in four, sometimes in Ave divisions ; 
the outermost of the flowers seem to make it their business 



XXIX CROSSWORTS 177 

to guard the rest, and therefore wear much larger corollas, 
so that the whole head of flowers sometimes has the ap- 
pearance of one of those pretty round garlanded shep- 
herdess hats that one sees in old picture-books ; but in 
general it is an awkward, untidy, irregular-looking plant, 
not nearly so pretty as the other English kind, the 
meadow scabioua 

This is much smaller, and when its flock are all lambs 
it is uncommonly pretty, the little buds being all hard 
and round, and sitting so close together that they give 
the notion of being well packed and comfortable. It is 
very pretty when in full blossom too, with its dark blue 
coroUas, all alike, and all regular and well cut, and seen 
through a whole forest of pretty anthers, sometimes blue, 
sometimes pink, and of the white pin-like stigmas. 

The garden kind is the handsomest of all, but it requires 
to be well tied up and trimmed, for it is a straggling, un- 
ruly, scrambling plant The flowers are of the richest deep 
dark red purple, the larger ones forming an ornamental 
trimming round the border, and the inner ones being 
almost black, which, with their white stigmas, has caused 
them to be called, in cottage gardens, by the name of 
widows. I have sometimes wondered that little girls 
who are ingenious with their needles do not try to make 
velvet pin-cushions in imitation of these flowers, with pins 
for the stigmas ; though, to be sure, they would produce 
anything but a flattering resemblance of the flower, so 
perhaps they had better let it alone. 

When the blossom of the scabious is over it is easy to 
see the little wedges of germs, still with their sharp prickly 
whiskers of calyx, all rising up together in a sort of 
mountain, holding at first tight, then more loosely, to 
each other, as if loath to part from the loving friendship 

N 



178 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

in which they have flourished together and worn together 
their rich and sober array ; and not parting till rain, 
frost, or wind Anally rend them asunder and send them 
each to be the founder of a fresh colony of scabious. 
Nobody exactly knows whence this kind of scabious 
came ; it has been growing in English gardens for the 
last two hundred years, but whence it was brought is not 
certain. 

The next aggregate flower is a bold fierce fellow, one 
of the tallest, strongest, and sharpest of the dwellers in 
our hedges, the teazel, namely. How prickly it is, only 
second 'in sharpness to the thistle, wearing a hedge of 
thorns in every possible place where there is room for 
them. The whole of the firm hard hollow stem is 
scattered with little hooks, bent downwards ; the chief 
ribs of the leaves have prickles all along their under side ; 
the long narrow leaflets of the common calyx are perfect 
ranks of pricks beneath ; and as to the great head itself, 
it is a very porcupine, for each little lilac flower dwells at 
the very bottom of a deep calyx, furnished with two hard 
sharp strong spikes, like a warrior's spears set up before 
his tent Not only are these spikes sharpened at the 
point, but the whole length is jagged with little hooked 
teeth, and so hard and tough is the substance that long 
after the blossom has faded, all through autumn and 
winter, you may see the brown stem and bristly head 
standing boldly up, facing all the storms of snow and rain, 
and not lost sight of till summer comes again. 

Indeed, from its long endurance in this condition we 
generally think of a teazel as this hard, dry, bleached ob- 
ject, instead of the beautiful creature it is in its prime, in 
the middle of July, when the calyx spines are in their full 
glory of green freshness, and the principal head standing 



XXIX CROSSWORTS 179 

up in its grandeur, with the little attendant ones on either 
side, looking like a monarch wearing his crown ; for the 
flowers do not all blossom at once, but come out in bands 
or circlets round the conical head, so as to resemble a 
garland bound round it Truly the teazel thus crowned 
is a noble warrior of the wayside. And he is to be ad- 
mired, too, for his patient endurance in firmness and 
strength long after his brightest days are past 

The leaves of the teazel are curious ; they are what is 
called sessile, sitting on the stem, that is to say, without 
leaf-stalks ; they grow in pairs, and the lower ones meet 
quite together and join at the bottom, forming but one 
leaf round the stem, and making a deep cup, which after 
rain is often to be found filled with water ; indeed I have 
seen this pretty green pond well filled, even in the midst 
of a dry summer, so as to keep the leaves strong, healthy, 
and fresh, as long as they are required to draw in air for 
the growing seed. 

The teazel is of importance to the making of cloth, for 
the little delicate yet firm hooks are better than anything 
that man, with all his machinery, has ever been able to 
devise for raising the nap without tearing the cloth itself. 
For this purpose large fields of teazels are grown in the 
manufacturing counties, their heads are cut off and fixed 
in a frame, weU sorted according to their sizes, and the 
cloth being damped and spread out on a table, they are 
drawn across it, and the little claws just raise the threads 
suflBlciently to give the soft woolliness of effect So much 
did the cloth-makers of old value the teazel that three 
teazel heads are the arms of the Clothiers' Company. 



CHAPTER XXX 

OLIVES 

Of the great tribe of compound flowers we spoke in quite 
early September days with the thistle and the daisy (see 
Chapter VIII.) So we did of the next tribe, the bell flowers 
-^as last bells of summer (Cluster YII. p. 45) ; and in 
the same chapter we had the heat^ (p. 47), last bells too, 
only that they ring a chime of eighty and the bell flowers 
one of five. 

Nearly related to these are the beautiful American 
plants, azaleas and kalmias, belonging to this class. I 
think the bud of the great white kalmia, or calico flower, 
as it is called in America, one of the prettiest things I 
know ; and the flower pinned down with its eight regular 
stamens is very elegant. The stamens have the same 
curious property of springing up and shedding their pollen 
as the barberry. These are not apt to be seen out of 
grand gardens, and the only one of the race that is apt to 
come in small people's way is the rhododendron, a very 
splendid mountain dweller, who has made himself, his 
evergreen leaves, and bunches of crimson or lilac blossoms, 
nearly at home in our climate. One small sort grows in 
Switzerland ; and the Asiatic ranges of mountains are the 
proper abode of the handsome ones, where they keep high 



CHAP. XXX OLIVES - 181 

enough to be out of the great heat, but too low for 
perpetual snow ; and when planted here, in peat or bog, 
or anything like mountain soil, they grow like natives, 
flourish, and attain a great size. All these three, however, 
kalmia, azalea, and rhododendron, have honey, which is 
good for bees, but not good for man ; and there are stories, 
both ancient and modem, of very serious illnesses being 
caused by eating honey made entirely from these flowers. 

Also another set of bell-shaped blossoms with berries 
good to eat They grow on mountains and in bogs, and 
in many sorts bear berries — many berries. These have 
stiff white blossoms and low shrubby stems, they grow on 
a peaty soil, chiefly on mountains or bogs, and their berries, 
either red or purple, have a pleasant sharpness, which 
makes them very good for tarts or for jam. I have heard 
a lady say, who spent her younger days in a town on the 
borders of the New Forest, that all the tarts to be bought 
there in shops were made of whortleberries, and very sour 
they wera Now the cranberries most used in tarts are 
imported from America ; but many mountain children in 
our own country still gather them for market, and the 
children who have learnt that pretty book. Moral Songs, 
will not have forgotten the little sick boy's gift of purple 
berries to the kind lady. 

The primrose tribe came into pentagon flowers in May 
(p. 1 9). Among them too are reckoned the pretty cyclamen 
of our gard^is, and the loose-strifes, very different from 
the purple kind we spoke of in the last subclass. 
They are the tall yellow loose-strife, with its shining 
yellow spikes, by the river side, and its pretty trailing 
brother, the moneywort, or creeping jenny, with leaves in 
pairs, and polished yeUow blossoms, creeping on the moist 
hedge bank in long wreaths, which make ready-made 



182 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

garlands for little girls' heads, and hangs over window 
boxes in London ; and a iihird kind, the yellow pimpernel, 
with thin leaves and bright golden stars of blossom. 

Then comes the true pimpernel, the shepherd's weather- 
glass. Bright little thing, one of the three scarlet flowers 
of sober England ; does not every one know it and like 
it, even though we must call it a weed? Surely it 
may grow under currant bushes and among cabbages 
without offence, though it must be turned out of our 
flower beds. Its Latin name, AnagaUis, is derived from 
a Greek word meaning a laugh, and certainly it does 
laugh in the sunshine, which it loves so much that it 
shuts up its leaves not only in the evening on cloudy 
days, but when there is rain in the air — ^little weather- 
wise thing. Its blossoms are on long slender stems, and 
its round urns of capsules turn down to the earth to ripen 
the fruit The stamens are covered with a beautiful soft 
down, and the leaves grow in pairs. Sometimes you may 
find a pimpernel exactly like this in everything, except 
that the coroUa is a rich deep blue. We had one single 
plant in our kitchen garden some ten or twelve years ago 
which we thought a great prize. Now its descendants 
have spread all over that part of the garden, and some- 
times, from the pollen of the scarlet and blue getting mixed, 
as I suppose, there come up pale lilac pimpernels, not so 
pretty, but curious. A third kind of these laughing flowers 
is found in wet places, the delicate bog pimpernel, white, 
striped with pink, growing in long trailing wreaths, with 
little round leaves in pairs. A large handsome sort, very 
rich blue, looking like my own blue pimpernel magnified, 
is grown in gardens by its company name of Anagallis. 

All these beauties are five stamened, but the jessamines 
have only two stamens. Most of them are very regular. 



XXX OLIVES 183 

and follow the same rule& One pistil with two divisions 
in the germ, two stamens, a coroUa of one petal, but with 
twice two divisions, and a calyx with twice two teeth, a 
berry or a capsule with two seeds. Look up to the taller 
shrubs, and see the green buds swelling in the rains of 
February ; look at those brown dry clusters of old seed 
vessels, consisting each of two hard valves, which once 
enclosed the seed. Those pale green buds at the end of 
their dry branches contain the promise of our May garlands. 
There lie folded up the whole branch of delicate green 
heart-shaped leaves, and the cluster, the delicious cluster, 
of lilac blossoms, so thick, so solid, so sweet, so fall of 
perfume, so beautifully and so irregularly shaped. May 
only the spring be warm enough to bring them out by the 
first of May. Sweet lilac ! One of the first things I can 
remember was the glory of being carried on the shoulder 
of a kind friend to gather the nodding heads of the lilac 
blossoms, fresh and dewy with the spring showers ; and 
there is one white lilac bush which I never look at with- 
out a feeling of shame, when I remember the sad day 
when I tore down one long branch in trying to reach the 
flowers from my own small height ; the mark is still to 
be seen on the bark, though it happened many years ago. 

The lilac's native home is in Persia, a hilly country, as 
you know, and therefore in parts a cold one, so that it is 
very hardy, and does not fear our winters. It is one of 
the kind plants which are the Londoner's friends, for it 
grows without being very much stunted in the midst of 
the black gardens. 

I wonder if you know those pretty lines about the 
tenth commandment, which say that as the daisy is like 
the lowly cottage child, so the lilac blossom nodding on 
its high tree is like the high-bom child, and how both 



184 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

alike are sweet humble flowers in themselyes, doing their 
own duty where their Maker has placed them. 

The leaf of the lilac is very pretty, and will serve well 
to show yon how most leaves are formed. Out of the sap- 
wood of the tree, within the bark, springs a foot-stalk, a 
bundle of small fibres, which, after growing some way, 
put forth on each side a number of little branches or veins, 
which again send out lesser veins, so that there is a doee 
network forming the frame or skeleton of the leat This 
network is filled up by a skin, or properly speaking by 
two skins with little vessels between them, wondrously 
arranged, but so as you cannot see them, for they are 
smaller than anything you can even imagine. And the 
use* of leaves ) Besides shading us, and some kinds being 
good to eat, they are of great use to the plants, for by 
them they breathe. I do not think I can make you 
understand even what has been discovered about it ; but 
by day they draw in the porticm of the air which by 
night they breathe out agahi, and this is what keeps them 
alive, with the sap flowing to the points of the leaves 
through all the network of veina 

The jessamine, which is also of the second class, always 
puts me in mind, more especiaQy the white one, of the 
quiet humble grace and simplicity that is most often to 
be seen in the most nobly bom maidens^ and which make, 
in every station, a lady's mind. 

Those starry pearly flowers, are they not like the peaii 
oi great price, the ornament of a meek and quiet sjarit ? 

The throat of the corolla of the jessamine is remarkably 
long, which is what gives it its peculiar elegance ; the 
buds are most gracefully folded, and the leaves, which 
consist of seven leaflets, are particularir elegantly fonned. 
The firuit is a berry, but the cold of England prevents it 



XXX OLIVES 185 

from ripening here, for tlie native country of Hie wliite 
kind is India ; of the yellow, Madeira. The small yellow 
kind is hardier, as it comes from Circassia, and there have 
been ''jasmine bowers " in England, at least ever sinoe the 
time of Queen Elizabeth 

The olive, that sacred plants which famished the holy 
oil for anointing, is another of these plants with two 
stamens. It has a white blossom, and a large black berry 
fuU of sweet oil, which is used for food all through the 
south of Europe and western Asia. The leaf is of a 
curious pale bluish green, and the trunk grows to a great 
size, and lives to a considerable age. Pilgrims to Jerusalem 
tell us how they have knelt with fear and reverence among 
the aged trees of the garden of Gethsemane sprung from 
those which shaded our blessed Lord in His agony. 

And do you remember that the oil of olive is a token 
of the grace of the Holy Spirit shown in love ? And that 
the Psalmist says of the righteous man that " his children 
are like the olive branches round about his table." Per- 
haps this is the reason that Olive and Oliver are Christian 
names ; at any rate I am sure those children are more like 
olive branches who sit in love and kindness round their 
father's table than those who grieve him by strife and 
bittemesa 

Ever since Noah's dove brought back the olive leaf it 
has been an emblem of peace and joy even among heathen 
nations. The Athenians had a fable that two of their 
deities, Neptune and Minerva, disputed which should be 
sovereign of their city, and it was resolved that it should 
be that one who could give the richest present to the new 
town. Neptune gave a hqrse, Minerva an olive, and that 
precious tree was adjudged to be so much the best gift 
that Minerva became the great goddess of Athens, which 



186 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. XXX 

was called after Iter Greek name of Athene. There was 
a tree in the Acropolis which they fancied was the very 
one she had produced, it was burnt and cut down when 
Xerxes took the town, but they thought it a promise of 
their renewed prosperity when a fresh branch shot out 
from the root 

Sometimes when a nation intended to ofiEer peace or 
war to another people they gave them their choice between 
a sword or an olive branch, and this gave rise to the say- 
ing, that when a person wishes to be reconciled to his 
enemy he holds out the olive branch. 

The privet, with its white blossoms and black berries, 
is of this tribe, as you will find by examining it. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

PENTAGON STARS 

Periwinkles are more regular pentagons. The throat of 
this pretty flower is furnished with a soft white down, 
and the pistil in the middle is one of the most exquisitely 
formed things that can be seen anywhere. Look at the 
green germ in five divisions, the taper little brown style, 
and the wonderfully beautiful stigma, like a white downy 
flower within a flower, or perhaps more like a very small 
model of a round brush. And the down is very useful in 
collecting the pollen and conducting it to the germ. 

If you have a periwinkle copse near you, pray go to it 
and admire the bright blue eyes of the flowers peeping 
out among the long wreaths of leavea The stems throw 
themselves out to a great length, and take root in the 
earth again, so as to make a network in which you might 
chance to entangle your foot and get a faU. Pull up one 
of these, and you will see the little white root it is throw- 
ing out to lay hold of the ground witk 

These long wreaths seldom blossom, unless sometimes 
they do 80 in despair, because they cannot find the way 
to root themselves in the earth. The main root puts up 
little straight shoots which bear the buds and blossoms in 
the early spring, and when their flowering time is over 



188 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

stretcli themselves out into wreaths. The leaves grow 
opposite to each other in pairs, and owing to their thicker 
and more substantial structure retain so much sap that 
they remain on aU the winter, and the flower is to be 
found in blossom nearly through the whole year, though 
its full glory is in April and May. At the end of each 
long creeping shoot there grow two pair of leaves just 
opposite to each other, and setting out so as to form a 
pretty green cross. 

One of the prettiest May garlands I ever saw was 
ornamented with long strings of periwinkles, threaded 
alternately with cowslips^ hanging in festoons all round it 
In Italy the blue eyes of the periwinkle do not seem to 
the people to have the same joyous look as they have 
here. They call it the flower of death, because it is used 
to put round the heads of little children who die young 
when they Are carried to their graves. They are not put 
into coffins, but are dressed in white frocks, a cross is put 
between their hands upon their breast, and with a wreath 
of the blue flowers round their hair they are carried to 
church, and there lie looking like wax, till the Psalms 
and prayers are read over them, and they are laid in their 
resting-places. I suppose the periwinkle is chosen because 
it is so frail and fading a flower. 

So too are the deep bells of the intensely blue gentians, 
the dwellers on the heights of the Alpine Mountains, and 
on wild boggy heaths in all countries ; their blue, from 
its extreme depth, though of so much darker a shade, 
reminding us more of the unsearchableness of the sky 
above than any other colour I know. 

The starry pentagon flower of the centaury, with its 
delicate pink tint, comes next, and of all English plants 
I think it is the earliest in going to bed, for even before 



XXXI PENTAGON STARS 189 

our afternoon's walk is finished its pink blossoms have 
drawn in their five points, and folded closely np, not to 
open till the sun wakes them next morning. 

If you have a river near you, with marshes round it, 
perhaps you may be able to find a beautiful pentagon 
floww, the bog-bean, more elegantly, though less correctly, 
called the fringed lily. Less correctly, I say, because all 
true lilies have six stamens and six petals, and I hope 
the children who read these chapters may learn a little 
more about flowers than to call everything a lily, even to 
a white convolvulus^ or still worse, a cowslip. 

The delicate pink and white petals of the bog-bean 
are crested with curious white curling fringes, from the 
midst of which peep out the five black anthers at regular 
distances like the angles of a pentagon. Did you ever 
see a more elegant flower 1 I wish its delicate fringes 
would not shrivel and turn brown so very soOn after it is 
gathered — but so it is — ^pure and delicate things cannot 
bear to be rudely touched and examined. 

And a pentagon is to be traced in the grooves of the 
convolvuli or bindweeds. These beautiful flowers spread 
nearly all over the world, and the English kinds, as usual, 
are as graceful and elegant, though less showy, than their 
foreign cousins. 

Of all the fair things in the world what is more lovely 
than our great white bindweed, its twining wreaths of 
heart-shaped leaves and delicate white flowers, their buds 
so gracefully rolled and folded in that tapering form? 
Nothing gives a greater sense of purity than those stain- 
less flowers, in the midst of their green bowers, looking 
as if it was a sort of cruelty to touch or injure anything 
so exquisitely beautiful and delicate that a breath will 
almost soil it, and if gathered, in a few moments it is a 



190 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

melanclioly, crushed, faded thing. It is like the driven 
snow, too pure to bear the taint of man's toucL 

The little pink bindweed is one of our prettiest flowers ; 
the Ave deep lines that mark its divisions almost always 
white, while the space between them blushes to every 
shade of pink, according to the place in which it grows ; 
if in the sunshine, it is almost white ; if in the shade, 
the colour is bright and deep ; always beautiful, however, 
with its twining spiring stems. It is a pity that, beautiful 
as* it is, it must, like other good things when they get 
into unfit places, be often considered as a weed and rooted 
up. We cannot suffer it to creep about our neat paths, 
or fetter our choice plants, any more than we can or 
ought to allow our healthful play to take up the time- 
that ought to be spent on our useful employments. 

Equally frail and still prettier is the flower which the 
French call " the beauty of the day," and we the Convol- 
vulus minor, that blue, white, and yellow bell, blossom- 
ing in the morning and fading by sunset, closing up too 
on cloudy days as if it felt the change to our gray sky 
from its own sunny dime on the Mediterranean shores. 
It grows near the ground, and does not climb, as does our 
other common garden convolvulus, the major, which de- 
lights to twist about a trellis-work, or wind round a pole. 
It is an East Indian plant, and therefore requires care ; 
but in its native home its flowers can be open but a very 
short time, for they cannot even bear the heat of our own 
July sun. The most curious and beautiful quality of this 
species is, that the same plant bears blossoms of every 
variety of colour, some deep intense violet, with red veins, 
others pink or purple, veined with white, others again 
quite white, with the divisions purple. 

Many, and many more, are the kinds scattered over 



XXXI PENTAGON STARS 191 

other countries, growing to great size and beauty in the 
tropical lands, where the humming bird glances among 
their bells, and the tailor bird sews their leaves together 
with long flakes of cotton, to shield the nest containing 
its tiny eggs ; some few have been brought to England, 
but none except the splendid Mexican Ipomea are much 
known. 

Closely related to the bindweeds is a very strange plant, 
which you may find on the common, the dodder. Do 
you know it ? Queer, red, stringy thing ! creeping about 
on the furze and heath, binding them down by a close, 
hard network of its fibres, without root, without leaf, only 
with these twisting stems, bearing white blossoms in little 
round balls, like some of the aggregate flowers of the 
fourth class. If you can find it you will be much amused 
with its strange appearance, and probably it will entice 
you to get your fingers well pricked with the furze on 
which it hangs ; not feeding on it, however, but nourished 
by air and dew. 

And beautiful, most beautiful among garden shrubs, is 
the budlea, with its little orange-coloured balls, delight- 
ful to the eye and delightful to the smelL Oh, the 
beautiful garden where I remember them, with its sloping 
green bank, and the ragged fir trees opening to show the 
church tower, and the arm of the sea which could just be 
seen through the trees, with the little white-sailed boats 
tacking about on it ; and the gum-cistus raining down its 
frail leaves in the middle of the grass plot where we used 
to blow our soap-bubbles and try to make them sail away 
over the house ; and the blue sky and bright sun, and the 
orange balls of the budleas hanging high up and contrast- 
ing with the blue of the sky ! You will say the budlea has 
little to do with all this, but it was there that I first knew 



192 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

and fiist loved those bright little orange marbles, and the 
verj sight of them always brings back in a moment the 
sights and sounds of that pleasant place. I daresay it is 
beaatifol in its own home on the skirts of the Andes in 
Chili, from whence it was brought to England about the 
year 1774. 

The Borage tribe is very prickly, the blossoms almost 
always blue. The borage, which gives name to the tribe, 
is something between a weed and a plant, much loved 
of beea It is dark blue, and has black stamens, but is 
not near so handsome as that tall dignified plant the 
viper's buglosa In its perfection it is one of the most 
magnificent of wild flowers, though it varies extremely in 
size. On a loose graveUy soil, such as suits it, it grows to 
a great height I have pulled up one piece which, from 
the crown of its purple head to the extreme point of its 
jetty black, straight, tapering root, measured more than a 
yard and a hal^ whereas in a poor starved ground, where 
it has either too much or too little water, it dwindles to 
be scarcely three inches high, and is hardly to be recog- 
nised as the same plant 

It is named both in Latin and English from a viper, 
because of its numerous stings or rather bristles. They 
grow white and hoary all over its alternate leaves, and 
dark red and sharp they stud the pale green stem ; they 
fringe the calyx, and guard the whole person of this 
monarch of the waste from head to foot 

I call the viper's bugloss a monarch because it is so 
royally robed. See the beautiful deep blue of the fall- 
blown flowers, the purple tinge of those which have just 
opened, and, more exquisite than aU, the bright red 
of the bud which is slowly rising from its bristling case 
and preparing to unfold itself to-morrow. And these fine 



XXXI PENTAGON STARS 193 

colours are brought into close contrast, for see, the grand 
spike bears its blossoms on little side stems, each closely 
set with a double row of buds, and curling downwards and 
inwards towards the point. The flowers nearest to the 
main stem blossom first, then, as they wither, the spikelet 
straightens as those farther back expand, and thus, imlike 
most spiked plants, where the lower blossoms come out 
first and fade before the upper ones are blown, the whole 
length of the tall head is at once arrayed in blue flowers 
and crimson buds, the blue set off to still greater advan- 
tage by the five long crimson stamens within. 

There are several others of these coarse prickly-stemmed 
plants, with curling spikes of blossom, and for the most 
part with blue flowers with a tendency to turn red. The 
anchusa or alkanet, the lungwort with spotted leaves, 
often found in cottage gardens, and the comfrey, are of 
these. The wild comfrey, growing by the river bank, 
with large rough leaves and bell-shaped flowers, blossom- 
ing in pairs, and with five curious scales closing the throat 
of the corolla, is of all shades, between deep red, purple, 
and yellowish white; you can hardly find two plants 
bearing exactly the same tint ; but that fine, tall, bushy 
plant, the prickly comfrey, which grows in gardens, has 
blossoms which are pink in the bud and blue when un- 
folded. 

The hound's-tongue, so called from the form of its 
leaves, has small dark red blossoms, very pretty ; but the 
whole plant, which grows by the wayside, generally 
wears a thick coat of dust, and it has a peculiar smell, 
which probably led to its being once used in medicine. 
And in old-fashioned gardens there is a lovely little blue 
hound's-tongue in early spring, like a little turquoise. 

This leads us to a set strangely divided between poison 

O 



194 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

and usefulness, the Nightshade tribe, beginning with the 
great white Datura or thorn apple, including the tobacco 
plant, with its long pinky blossoms and strange scent, 
never known till Sir Walter Ealeigh brought it from 
America, and King James I. was much displeased at what 
he called men making chimneys of their mouths. 

The henbane, poisonous to those who eat it unguardedly, 
is very valuable as medicine when properly prepared. It 
is not very often seen growing, but when it is found it is 
usually on waste land, by roadsides. It grows dose to 
the ground, with pale woolly clammy leaves, an unpleasant 
smell, and a handsome but venomous-looking flower, of 
pale cream colour, covered with a network of purple lines, 
and with a deep dark purple throat If you find any 
keep the little ones from touching it^ but don't pull it up, 
for it is so rare that botanists think a specimen a great 
prize, and lament if they find it gone from the spot where 
it once was known. 

Even more rare than the henbane, and still more 
poisonous, is the dwale, or deadly nightshade, which has 
its Latin name Atropa from one of the three Fates who, as 
the ancient Greeks believed, spun the thread of human 
life ; Atropos, the one from whom this deadly plant is 
named, was the third, who held the shears which cut oflf 
the thread when it had come to its full length. 

Every now and then we hear of some poor little child 
who has been so carelessly watched as to be allowed to 
eat the dark purple berries of the nightshade, which have 
a sweetish taste, and thus tempt it on to its own destruc- 
tion, for one alone is suJSLcient to produce a fatal stupor 
and heaviness which are almost sure to end in deatL 

Poison fruits seem to be placed in this world in order 
to put us in mind of temptation and sin, which allure us 



XXXI PENTAGON STARS 195 

at first and then destroy ua. "We may almost feel sure 
that the earth brought forth no poison before sin had 
entered into the world, and death by sin. 

Do you observe, too, that the birds and other animals 
never poison themselves with wild fruits, it is only 
children that ever do so. This is because God has given 
the creatures instinct which guards them from even desiring 
what would hurt them, whereas he has given us reason to 
conquer our desires when they would lead us to our own 
injury. I believe, too, that no child who has not a habit 
of pampering its taste and craving after things, not be- 
cause it is hungry, but only because it is greedy, will ever 
be in much danger of being tempted by these wild, un- 
wholesome-looking fruits. 

The dwale is very uncommon. I have only once seen 
a plant of it It was growing on an old bridge ; it was 
very taU and branching, reaching some way above the 
parapet, with a quantity of light green downy leaves, and 
a profusion of dark, dull, reddish purple, beU-shaped blos- 
soms, such a plant as no one could ever mistake after 
having once met with a description of it 

This is the real deadly nightshade, a different plant 
from the woody nightshade, which is much more common 
and less dangerous. This last has shining red berries, 
drooping, and of a very pretty form ; they would make 
you very sick and giddy for some days if you were to eat 
them, but would probably not kill you unless you were 
very weakly. It grows on heaps of rubbish, and by way- 
sides ; it is a small plant, with heart-shaped leaves and 
very pretty flowers, the corolla being either purple or 
white, and what is called deflected, or turned back, so 
that the yellow stamens, which are all gathered together 
in one, with the pistil like a point, in the middle project- 



196 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

ing forwards, like the boss on an ancient shield, while 
the corolla and calyx lavish all their care upon the germ 
behind them. 

There are several other plants formed like the woody 
nightshade. There is the pretty American cowslip, with 
its trim, fair lilac blossoms nodding round its slender 
stem, not very like a cowslip, to be sure ; but as it grows 
in its own country in the long grass, and blows in early 
spring, I suppose it put the first settlers in Canada in 
mind of the yellow cowslips they had left at home ; and 
when their children trotted up to their log huts with 
hands fall of these pretty flowers, as their own used to be 
of the cowslips in their own native village, they liked to 
call them by the same friendly old name, bringing back, 
perhaps, the remembrance of playfellows who had been 
cowslip gatherers with them in the old country. 

Another plant with lilac deflected corolla and project- 
ing yellow stamens was imported from America three 
hundred years ago by Sir Walter Kaleigh. It has flbrous 
roots, with tubers at the knots; large, compound, wrinkled 
leaves, and the fruit is a dark purplish berry. 

Sir Walter planted these curiosities on his estate in 
Ireland, and there left them, teUing his servants that they 
would be very good food. In due time they budded, the 
lilac flowers opened and faded, and the green berries be- 
came dark. The servants tasted them, and soon found 
them both nauseous and unwholesome, so they dug up the 
roots and threw them away ; but when the master re- 
turned he made inquiry for them, searched, and found 
some still alive, which he caused to be re-planted, explain- 
ing that it was the root instead of the fruit that was 
good to eat 

And so it proved : the root was found to be excellent, 



XXXI PENTAGON STARS 197 

the culture was improved, and care made the plant grow 
better and produce more and larger tubers, till at last this 
American root became the chief food of the inhabitants of 
Ireland, and few persons in England like to make a dinner 
without it The French call this excellent root the apple 
of the earth ; we give it a name something like the Indian 
word it was called by when first brought from South America, 
and what that is I am sure you have guessed by this time. 

The reason why the berries of the potato are unwhole- 
some is that they partake of the nature of the Solanum 
or woody nightshade, the whole of which race are more 
or less poisonous. You know that very little use is made 
of the potato berry, even for seed ; it is only now and 
then sown, when people wish to produce some new variety ; 
and the plant is propagated from what is called the eye, 
the little black spots which we see in the tubers, or, as 
we are more used to calling them, the potatoes. I believe 
that in fact what we eat are not roots at all, the roots 
being only the long stringy network of fibres that go so 
deep into the ground, and that the tuber is really a sort of 
underground stem protecting, in a fleshy nest, the young 
buds which are to bear leaves and blossoms in the next 
year. The eye, then, is the bud, which, when planted 
with a sufficient quantity of the tuber to afford it nourish- 
ment through the winter, will grow, and in the summer 
put forth leaves above and fibres beneath, which will in 
due time form more tubers. Thus you see that Providence 
has provided food for us at the same time as for the 
plentiful increase of the plant 

Potato grounds are a very pretty country sight, with 
their regular ridge and furrow, and the long ranks of 
plants growing so evenly, with their rich green bending 
foliage, and the white or lilac flowers hanging four or five 



198 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

together on their slender stems ; indeed the flower is in 
itself so pretty that I think the plant would be grown 
for its beauty even if it was of no use. 

Autumn, too, brings a very pleasant sight, when the 
stout men and boys go to work, digging deep in the 
ridges which stand up so neat and trim before them, 
while behind all is trodden down flat ; and their prongs 
and forks bring up a whole net of fibres, with the brown 
lumps hanging among them ; and there are the women 
behind with great gloves, and knives or spuds, clearing off 
the fibres, throwing away the old dry haulm, and scraping 
off the rich brown earth, then, as the potatoes come out^ 
tumbling them into the sack or barrow to be wheeled off 
to the winter's store, often a droll little thatched burrow 
in the field. Funny things are those potatoes, brown, 
yellow, or red, and of such comical shapes, especially pigs' 
potatoes, like strings of beads, and now and then in 
clusters, almost like a little man with a little round head 
and two legs. They have odd names too, according to 
the varieties, which are very different according to the soil 
Some places are so much less favourable to their goodness 
than others that the best potatoes degenerate in them 
after the first year, and the seed (the eye, that is to say) 
has continually to be renewed from the more suitable 
soil Thus London is supplied with potatoes grown in 
Yorkshire, the seed of which is brought every year from 
Scotland. Some parts of Cornwall and the Channel Islands 
are also regions where the potato thrives and is better 
than elsewhere. 

Ireland is, however, its great home, and it is only 
within the last hundred years that the cultivation has 
spread so universally in England. It has so become the 
poor man's food that it is hard to think how people lived 



XXXI PENTAGON STARS 199 

without it ; and for many years it seemed the most cer- 
tain of all crops ; but some years ago, as almost the 
youngest reader can remember, came a warning that our 
own skill, labour, and foresight can never secure us from 
famine, and that it is Qod alone who can give or withhold 
our daily food. 

The tall flourishing green haulm of the potatoes, which 
had been finer than ever that year, began to shrivel and 
turn black, a sickly unwholesome smell spread over the 
gardens, and in a few weeks every plant was but brown 
withered stalks ; then the mischief spread to the roots, 
and the whole promise of the year was turned to blight 
and decay. There was scarcely a cottage that did not 
suffer more or less, or where the children did not leave their 
dinner scarcely satisfied ; and in poor Ireland there was 
starvation and misery such as, thank heaven, we never 
saw and can scarcely conceive. 

Then came the Fast Day, which bade us mourn for 
the sins which had brought wrath upon us, and pray 
that Gk)d would again bless our basket and our store; and 
then in His mercy we received an abundant harvest of 
com, while the potatoes, though not free from disease, 
were fetr more healthy than in the past year. Then did 
we remember to give thanks with our whole hearts? 
And have we since remembered the resolutions we made 
in the time of our fear and distress ? 

Since that first year, though the potatoes have never 
been quite free from disease, they have not been so much 
touched as at first ; and besides the training in giving up 
to others and denying ourselves, which doubtless the year 
of distress brought to some, it taught prudent people not 
to rely so entirely on it as a certain crop, but to grow other 
things that may be used in case the potato should fail. 



200 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. XXXI 

In old-fashioned gardens is the curious winter cherry, 
which has a small white flower, whose calyx grows into a 
bright scarlet case, almost like a Chinese lantern, contain- 
ing an orange-coloured berry the size of a cherry, very 
pretty, but not good to eat Tomatoes and ^;g plants 
likewise are of the nightshade kind. 



CHAPTER XXXII 

THE SPURGE TRIBE 

Those odd things called spnrge form a tribe. There are 
two sorts which you may have often pulled up as weeds 
in your garden — ^the sun spurge, and the small spurge ; 
both are plants of a very regular growth, their stalks fall 
of milk wherever you break them, their leaves bluish, 
and their blossoms yellowish green. It is this milkiness 
of the plant that is the distinguishing mark of the spurges, 
the juice has that taste which is called acrid, and was 
formerly used to remove warts, from which the plant has 
derived the name of wart-weed. The stem is always 
regularly forked and branched, in some kinds almost like 
the umbelliferous planta In the lesser spurge there are 
two regular stages of stems, springing out like spokes, 
and with three long narrow leaves at each starting point 
The upper umbel bears from three to four little green 
flowers, some with very minute single stamens, others with 
round swelling pistils. There are pretty little yellow 
crescents in the flowers, which at flrst sight we should 
take for curiously-shaped anthers, but which are in reality 
nectarie& This small spurge has long, narrow, lance- 
shaped leaves ; those of the sun spurge are more nearly 
heart-shaped, and form pretty little cups round the small 



202 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

flowers. There is a larger sort growing in the woods, 
and 'named the wood spurge ; it is less milky, and has 
a red shrubby stem, very neat regular green cups, and 
pretty yellow crescent nectarie& It comes with the prim- 
roses and bluebells, and looks spring-like and Mendly. 
Another small sort is found in com fields^ and there is 
one sometimes cultivated in old gardens, and called, from 
the regularity of its alternate leaves, Jacob's ladder. 
They are not a very interesting race, and I only men- 
tioned them because they are so common. In the southern 
hemisphere these spurges grow to a great size, and become 
forest trees, figuring in books by their Latin name of 
Euphorbia. 

They have many curious foreign relations of which we 
cannot speak now. 

Under every hedge in early spring grows a green 
plant with shining leaves and long narrow loose spikes 
of little green flowers. This is the Dog's Mercury, why 
so called I cannot teU you, nor is it of much use, but 
every one likes it for the sake of spring. 

Our useful evergreen box follows. Look for its tiny 
green blossom among the cupnshaped leaves. 

It has a little hard seed, but the next race has varieties 
of nuts good to eat The stately Spanish Chestnut has 
spikes of stamen blossoms, all dusty, and with a curious 
smell, long spikes also of the sharp pointed pistila These 
turn to spiky cases for the brown nut If you pick up 
these nuts, aud get them out of these spiky husks — ^pray, 
pray roast them before you eat them. They will make 
your lips very sore if you do not, and they are very un- 
wholesome besides. I have known of deaths from eating 
many raw. And surely it is great fan to roast them in 
the evening. 



XXXII THE SPURGE TRIBE 203 

Those we buy come j&x)m Italy and Spain. There 
bread is made of them, and a chestnut tree is often the 
whole fortune of a fiBunily. 

The Beech, the Lady of the woods, has likewise these 
prickly cased nuts, which we call beech masts. The 
Beech is a lovely sight with the delicate green leaves and 
fair white bark. No brushwood grows under it, and a 
beech wood is like a great solemn natural cathedral, with 
branches arching over white trunks for pUlars, a ruddy 
brown floor, and the sun glancing through the leaves 
above. 

Of the kingly old oak you can read much elsewhere, 
and there would be no stopping if once we began upon 
him. His slender relative the hazel was in our second 
talk long ago in Chapter II. Likewise of the mistletoe in 
" Christmas Evergreens " in Chapter XL 

Of the great family of cone-bearing trees we spoke as 
needle trees, in Chapter XII. Like them in leaf, though 
in nothing else, is the Yew triba 

In the yew tree the barren flowers have neither calyx 
nor coroUa, but are like a cluster of little white stands — 
for the bunches of small stamens, covered with light buff 
pollen, which forms a floury-looking head in March or 
April, when shaken, will cover the tree with white dust 
The fertile flowers are little scaly white cups, with a 
single germ, and as they are not nearly so conspicuous as 
the barren ones, we are apt to wonder in autumn why the 
trees which were so full of blossom are now without fruit 

The fruit is a very pretty berry ; the seed swells and 
grows black, and the calyx gradually enlarges and becomes 
fleshy, tiUL it grows into a beautiful waxen cup of a soft 
red colour, unlike anything else, containing the black or 
rather deep brown stone. 



204 TIIE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

Yew berries are said to be poisonous ; and thougb I 
have seen boys perched all over an old yew tree, devour- 
ing them with all their might, yet, as I believe village 
boys will eat any thing, whether wholesome or not, and 
have a stronger digestion than most people, I would advise 
you to consider the berries as rather intended to please 
your eyes than your moutL 

One part of the yew tree is certainly poisonous to cattle, 
the leaves and young shoots, especially when withered. 
They do not seem to be equally dangerous when £resh, 
but horses, cows, and pigs, have frequently been killed by 
eating the half-feded clippings of a yew hedge. So if ever 
you have to do with the sweeping up of such dippings, be 
careful they are thrown where animals are not likely to 
get at them. 

In former times it used to be the fashion to ornament 
gardens with yew trees clipped into all manner of wonder- 
ful shapes — ^peacocks, lions, fans, and pyramids — ^and a 
book was even published on the art of shaping them. 
Even now we sometimes see, and very snug it looks, a 
gateway under an arch of well-clipped yew, and some- 
times an old churchyard, with a yew tree cut into the 
shape of a perfect mushroom, with a bench round the 
trunk, completely sheltered from the rain by the matted 
branches and close foliage. 

The yew tree looks best of all on the borders of chalk 
downs, great round dark green bushes standing up in the 
hedges like over -grown shrubs, of such curious shapes 
that you may know your old friends for miles off, and 
their huge, thick, short trunks, containing such quantities 
of dry, crumbling, dead wood, that it is only a wonder 
how they can prosper as well outwardly as they seem 
to do. 



XXXH THE SPURGE TRIBE 205 

I believe there is hardly any tree that lives so long as 
the yew. It is two years before the seed grows at all, 
and then it is very slow in getting on, and when it 
has reached its prime it is so hard, and the thick ever- 
green leaves keep out wet so well, that it is still longer 
in decaying. Perhaps some of the yew trees may still be 
green and fresh which stood when they were thought so 
much of for the archery of England. Perhaps these old 
fellows gave some of their branches to famish the tough 
yew bows which sent the cloth-yard shafts that won the 
battles of Crecy and Poitiers, and many another besides ; 
and the English yeomen and peasants, thanks to Magna 
Charta, were well cared for, well protected, prosperous 
men, willing to use their good yew bows in their monarch's 
cause. 

Yew branches are the Easter deckings of churches, and 
sometimes are carried on Palm Sunday, as the nearest 
approach we have to the palm. 

And they have from very old times been grown in 
churchyards ; indeed, King Edward L made a law that 
they should be planted there. 

The juniper is not unlike the yew, and grows in low 
gloomy -looking tufts on bleak hillsides. It has dark 
purple berries, and it has hardly any blossom. You 
remember that Elijah sat him down under a juniper tree 
in the wilderness when he requested for himself that he 
might die, and when the angel came to him and brought 
him the food that sustained him in his journey to Mount 
Sinai. However that was not a real juniper, but a sort of 
broom. The Eastern people hate juniper, and think it is 
an accursed plant, belonging to the devil. This is very 
curious, for the notion arose long before strong spirits 
were distilled, and before Geneva^ in Switzerland, made. 



206 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. XXXII 

and flavoured with juniper berries, that most harmful 
liquid called gin, which is the ruin of so many souls. I 
must tell you a story of a juniper bush. There was a 
very clever Scotchman — a poor man — who loved flowers, 
insects, and all things in nature, and knew all about them 
that could be known from observing them, and from 
the books he saved his money to buy. Ignorant people 
laughed at him and thought him foolish, and teased him. 
At last he said, " Now, daft as you think me, I will fore- 
tell something. That lonesome bush of juniper on the 
hillside, that never yet had a berry, will bear fruit next 
year." They laughed the more, but he knew that the 
reason this one bush bore no fruit was that it had no 
stamen-bearing plant within reach. Therefore, when both 
sorts were in blossom, he went in secret, cut branches of 
the stamen -bearing bushes, shook them over the poor 
solitary one, and in the summer it was so well covered 
with purple berries that aU who saw it began to think 
there had been a wise man among them. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

EVBRLASTING FLOWERS 

We have had stamens on the ovary and stamens on the 
calyx, many-petalled flowers and single-petalled flowers, 
and now we come to flowers with no petals at all, though 
sometimes with so bright a calyx that at first sight it may 
be taken for a corolla. 

Thus it is with that handsome garden flower the 
Marvel of Peru, which has a purple tube Ufce a corolla, 
but which is really only the calyx. 

Little white calyxes form the spike of the polygonum 
or persicaria tribe, with eight stamens, red stems and 
leaves, often streaked with black-knot grass in the wheat, 
pepperwort in bogs, persicaria on heaps of refuse ; the 
only ones of the kind that have a welcome are the buck- 
wheat grown for pheasants, the snake-weed in hay fields, 
and the handsome greater bistors in running water. 

Lastly, before leaving the water we must take the 
table-cloth of the butterfly and grasshopper. Do you 
remember ? 

** A mushroom their table, and on it was laid, 
A water-dock leaf, which the table-cloth made. " 

The water-dock is very handsome, its dark green leaves, 



208 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

red stems, and strange blossoms make a grand appearance, 
and here it does little harm, though its relations are some 
of the most troublesome of weeds, their roots creep so 
obstinately and are so hard to kill Even when dug up 
and left outside the earth they wUl still shoot out again ; 
and perhaps it is from this steadiness in growing, in spite 
of adverse circumstances, that one kind has acquired the 
name of Patience dock. The largest sort of dock is the 
rhubarb that is made into tarts and bears the very large 
leaves. 

The small sort^ called the sorrel-dock, is esteemed by 
many children for its pleasant sharp taste, and by many 
a dock leaf is used as a cure for the sting of a nettle. 

The dock has three calyx leaves, three red petals, six 
stamens in a little bunch, three pistils, each possessing a 
most beautiful little white tufted stigma, and altogether 
producing one seed. 

Another tribe with brightly coloured or chaff-like 
scales is the amaranth, everlasting flower. Its scales 
do not soon decay, and the flowers grow close to- 
gether, some holding five stamens, others two styles. 
Of these are the purple globe amaranth, also the spike, 
covered with deep red blossoms, that, when it stands up- 
right we call prince's feather, when it droops, the love- 
lies-bleeding. Last year I saw a little girl in a railway 
carriage with the finest love-lies-bleeding I ever met with, 
it was wound in two or three large coils and tied into 
her nosegay, otherwise it would have dragged on the floor ; 
I really think that if it had been at its full length it must 
have measured more than a yard. Cockscombs are ama- 
ranths, all their red blossoms gathered into one large 
spreading head. 

Next follow a race not very pretty to look at, though 



XXXIII EVERLASTING FLOWERS 209 

all of them are wholesome, and some really valuable. 
These are the goosefoot femily, with their tail spikes of 
small green blossoms, all possessing five stamens and two 
pistils, and large coarse spreading leaves. There are many 
of them growing wild in England, the largest of which 
was once much valued, and eaten as an excellent and 
nourishing article of food. You may find it growing on 
most old dunghills and heaps of rubbish, and may know 
it by the bright pink colour of the lower part of the stem. 
Its old names were " fat hen," or " Good King Henry ;" 
after which King Henry I cannot tell, though I had 
rather call King Henry VI. " good " than any of the other 
seven. One kind, however, is still favoured by being 
grown in gardens, and that is the spinach, which makes 
such a pretty dark green ^x)und for poached eggs to repose 
upon. Of the same family is the beet, the root of the 
most beautiful colour that ever comes in our way, so fine 
is the deep rich red of those concentric rings in the midst 
of their clear pink juice ; and another of the same tribe 
is the great mangel-wurzel, a German name, which signifies 
" root of scarcity." 

And what do you think I am going to set you to 
examine now ? Don't scream when I tell you it is the 
nettle ! yes, the stinging nettle ! Take hold of it boldly ; 
squeeze it well ; does it sting ? No I how is that] Ha ! 
I hear a little outcry — so you are stung after alL Yes, 
but not by the stem which you are grasping, but by a 
leaf which has lightly touched your hand. Is this because 
the leaves sting and not the stem ? No, for the least touch 
of the stem will cause you a prick, and raise a little burn- 
ing white head. What is the meaning of this ? Perhaps 
a nettle is like taking trouble, or doing what we do not 
like — learning a hard task, or taking a dose of physic 

P 



210 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

perhaps ; as long as we dally with it, and touch it, and 
taste it) and pity ourselves, it seems very bad, but take to 
it bravely and grapple with it at once, and there is an end 
of the matter, and most likely there is no sting at all 
Did you ever find it so ? 

Boys well know that this is the only way to treat nettles^ 
and sometimes they take in other children in a way I do 
not approve of at all, by running after them with a bunch 
of nettles, calling out^ "This is the month that nettles 
don't sting," and when the poor silly child has been per- 
suaded to give a timid touch, the very way to get stung, 
they laugh, and say, " Oh, I told no story, I said nettles 
didn't sting the month, not that they would not sting you." 
But I call this a regular cheats and very unkind, so I put 
this in as a warning. 

The reason of this is, that all the little white hairs that 
cover the stem and leaves of the nettle are bristles, like 
a serpent's tooth, each with a little bag of poison at the 
bottom, which a slight pressure squeezes into the hand 
through the tiny pipe into the bristle, whereas a good 
hard squeeze crushes bristle and bag together and makes 
them harmlesa It is only such poison as inflames the 
skin but does no harm if eaten. When vegetables were 
more scarce, and there was famine in the land, we hear of 
boiled nettle tops being used for food, and they are some- 
times given now to young turkeys. The flowers grow like 
many four-stamened ones in flocks ; they are green, and 
the fertile have shorter stems than the barren, which hang 
out rather prettily in autumn along the serrated leaves. 

Do you remember the fairy tale of the seven princes 
who were turned into swans, and could only be restored 
to their true selves by putting on shirts which their little 
sister was to spin from nettles ? It used to seem to me a 



XXXIII EVERLASTING FLOWERS 211 

stranger fancy than it does now that I have found out that 
in countries too cold for flax and hemp the fibres of nettles 
were much used to make sheets, etc. The Scotch poet 
Campbell, who wrote " Ye Mariners of England," and " The 
Battle of the Baltic," said that his mother Hked nettle 
sheets better than any others, and nettle thread was once 
much used. 

A plant that grows on old walls, with dark stems, large 
green leaves, and tiny blossoms at their base, some with 
tufted stigmas others with odd curled stamens, is called 
pellitory of the wall, and belongs to these. 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

FIGS AND HOPS 

Some curious trees come now — all trees with milky juice, and 
with their stamens and pistils in different tiny flowers. 

The mulberry tree is one of these, with fruit like a 
red blackberry, and leaves which are the favourite food of 
the silkworm. 

" Silkworm, weave a robe for me, 
Weave it of the mulberry tree." 

There is an Italian saying, " With patience the mulberry 
leaf becomes satin." But the silkworm, spinning its own 
pale golden shroud, must have worked first. 

The leaf is shaped so like the peninsula of Greece in 
the map that the Venetians called the place the Morea, 
from Moro, their word for the mulberry tree. 

These trees were first brought to England in the time 
of Henry VIII. James I. advised every one to plant 
them, breed silkworms, and get silk woven here, but it 
turned out too cold for the worms to thrive, though many 
children still watch their caterpillars in paper trays, wind 
off their soft yellow silk, and see the white moths come 
out. The trees are very long lived, and are often to be 
found in old gardens, where those who pick up the fruit 
in their childhood get to like it very much. There used 



CHAP. XXXIV FIGS AND HOPS 213 

to be an old notion that a mulberry tree never bore fruit 
till three cats had been buried under it ! 

The fig is most curious. Did you ever see a fig flower ? 
No. There are only young figs. The blossoms are really 
inside that green coat; and what is even stranger, the 
barren and fertile flowers are not within the same fig. 
How is the pollen ever to get at the pistil ? The way is 
this. There is a little hole at the top, and a small fly has 
been created which bears the nectar of fig flowers. So it 
goes from one young fig to the other, and carries the pollen 
of one to the ovaries of the others, so that the fruit can grow. 
The little figs which fell off unripe are those that had only 
stamens in them. Perhaps the barren fig tree that our 
Lord withered, as a visible parable to the Jews, had refused 
to open its figs to the fertilising fly. Is it not wonderful I 

The fig-tree, with its fine broad leaves, belongs to 
Syria, and will not grow in cold parte of England. Ite 
leaves fall off at the first frost The first fig trees were 
brought to England in the time of King James I. by a 
scholar who was sent to study books and plante in the 
Holy Land. He brought the plante to show the English 
what was meant by sitting under one's own fig tree. Figs 
keep well, and we get them packed in boxes. Sykos was 
their Greek name, and the tree Zaccheus climbed into was 
not our sycamore, but a wild fig. You may have heard 
the word sycophant, for a bad mean man, who gete favour 
by evil means. It used to mean — ^in Greek — a man who 
informed against people who sent their figs out of the 
country without permission from the government 

Hemp comes next^ a handsome plant, as you may see if 
your pet bird's hemp seed falls into the garden and growa 
It is of the same tribe with the hop. If you live in a 
hop district you know the look and smell of them most 



214 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. XXXIV 

intimately, as they hang in festoons on their poles in long 
beautiful avenues, and you will not think that " hopping " 
means nothing but going on one leg, as some other children 
would say. Almost everywhere the hop grows wild, fling- 
ing its beautiful leaves about on the hedges, and curling 
its twisted stem round the bushes ; and very nice the hop- 
tops or young shoots are if pinched short off, boQed, and 
eaten on toast like asparagus. The barren blossoms have 
a little green calyx, containing five yellow stamens, which 
stand up boldly ; the fertile flowers droop in a beautiful 
head of loose green scales, each containing a single pistil, 
and these are the hops which are gathered in such quanti- 
ties in Kent and Surrey, and serve to give bitterness to 
beer. Whole femilies come out to the hopping, and it 
is a time when the Irish pour in in numbers to earn 
the money that they hope will support them for the rest 
of the year. Other swarms come after the hops, a little 
aphis, an insect such as we call blight, lives on them, and 
would do much harm if it was not in its turn the food of 
the beautiful lady bird, who, as sure as the hop aphis 
arrives, spreads the gauzy wings under her scarlet shining 
wing-cases and flies after it as fast as i^ as the rhyme tells 
her, her house was on fire and her children burning. 

Though hops are so common now there were none in 
England till the reign of Henry VIII., when the say- 
ing is, 

" Hops and turkeys, mackerel and beer, 
Came to England all in one year." 

The hops came from Flanders, and with them I suppose 
the French name of beer, for ale had been English drink 
time out of mind, and had been made with the pretty 
blue ground -ivy instead of hops, as the name Ale-hoof 
still reminds us. 



CHAPTER XXXV 

THE ELM TREE 

Most of the next tribes are trees, beginning with the 
second in rank among our English trees, the noble 
spreading elm. 

It will be a good opportunity for telling you a little 
about the wonders of the construction of trees, and indeed 
of almost all plants with woody stems. I suppose you 
would tell me that the trunk of a tree consists of only 
two parts, the wood namely, and its rough greatcoat, the 
bark. And this is in some sense true, as we might say 
that we have flesh covered with skin ; but our flesh is full 
of numerous little vessels and minute parts, and in the 
same way the wood of the tree is of far more wonderful 
structure than you or I should ever have guessed. 

In the first place, recollect how the end of a stick looks 
when freshly cut and polished off very smoothly, as boys 
like to do when they have a good sharp knife. There 
is a little pale spot in the middle which, by the help of a 
magnifying glass, is shown to be of a soft spongy sub- 
stance. This is the pith, and it serves to nourish the 
infant leaves when they have not yet broken from their 
hard coverings and are too young to obtain their support 
from the air and moisture. 



216 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

Outside the pith is the wood, which is arranged in 
rings, one without the other. These rings grow darker 
towards the centre ; and the inner and darker ones are 
called the heart-wood, while the outer ones are called the 
sap-wood. The age of the tree is reckoned by the number 
of the rings, as it forms a fresh circle of sap-wood every 
year, and at the same time the innermost ring of the sap- 
wood turns into heart-wood. 

This heart-wood is the main strength and firmness of 
the tree, the sap-wood that which carries on the business 
of life, for through it the sap rises in the spring to support 
the buds and leaves. Through it^ I say, for both kinds 
of wood are, in fact, composed of an infinity of very small 
tubes or pipes, through the hoUow of which the sap mounts 
in the outer rings, while the inner ones are filled with 
a hard solid substance which was originally formed in the 
leaves. 

Across the wood you may see a number of little pale 
fine lines diverging from the centre, not regularly, but in- 
terrupted and broken. Perhaps they are most distinct in 
the oak tree. These are called the medullary rays, that 
is, the rays of marrow, and serve to conduct to the centre 
of the stem the sap which has moimted through the sap- 
wood, which having travelled out to the ends of the leaves 
descends through the bark 

This is a long accoimt, but it is so wonderful that it 
would be a pity not in some degree to enter into it, so I 
will just tell it to you once more, so as to show you how 
the sap of a tree has a circulation like that of the blood 
in our bodies. 

First, it is sucked in from the earth by the roots ; then 
it mounts through the hoUow tubes of the sap-wood, which 
conduct it to the extreme end of every branch and twig ; 



XXXV THE ELM TREE 217 

then it turns and comes back again, together with the food 
the leaves have been gathering from the air and rain, 
through the vessels of the bark, parting on the way with 
some portion which goes through the medullary rays to 
feed the pith and fill up the tubes of the solid heart-wood 
in the middle. So you see that every branch of the tree 
derives its support from its union with the rest, and you 
know of what that should remind us. We hear of sap 
rising in the spring, the time chosen for felling trees, be- 
cause the quantity of moisture makes it easier to strip off 
the bark. Now the sap is always present, but as soon 
as warm weather comes, and the buds swell, they call for 
more to feed them, and what was at rest in the branches 
flows into them ; the branches demand a supply from the 
sap-wood, the sap-wood draws upon the root, and by and 
by the whole begins to return by way of the bark. Cold 
will check aU this ; and it used to be thought that the 
sap went up by the bark and down by the wood, but this 
has been shown to be wrong. A French botanist, in order 
to make sure, in the midst of a sudden frost cut down a 
large poplar, a yard from the ground, and found the stump 
dry, while the upper part dropped with sap. Another 
rising takes place to feed the midsummer shoot, which 
brightens the foliage in middle age with tender red and 
green. 

When a tree grows old decay generally begins from 
within, but as the circulation chiefly depends on the outer 
portions we often see hollow trees with plenty of green 
leaves, though they have so little sap-wood, or wood of 
any kind, that it is hard to guess how they stand at alL 
What famous play-places for children those hollow trees 
make, and what capital nests do the owls and woodpeckers 
find in them ! An old hollow tree is likely to be a perfect 



218 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

storehouse of delights for lovers of insects and lovers of 
birds and lovers of mosses and lichens, aye, and for lovers 
of merry cliildren too, who like to hear the screams of 
good-humoured play, as the small people jump out of 
their hiding-place, or make the smooth inside a castle or 
cottage peculiarly their own, for enjoying their own little 
secrets and keeping their hoards of pretty stones and 
pebblea 

You can now perceive why it is so important in 
carpentering to cut the wood the right way, lengthways, 
that is to say, so as to break into as few as possible of the 
little tubes. If cut the cross way all the tops of the tubes 
would be cut open and laid bare, so as to let the minute 
dropd of damp trickle into them and cause decay ; be- 
sides, it is much smoother to go along with the tubea 
The grain of the wood and the different patterns on 
boards are caused by the rincrs of the heart-wood, the 
larger ones being innermost and nearest the centre. 

Now then for the elm itself. 

In March and April you may see its branches thickly 
covered with clusters of small dark brown blossoms, and 
when you can get a near view of them you will find that 
these are small greenish brown cups, containing five red 
stamens and two styles, growing out of a little round 
germ ; but the seed is not apt to ripen, and the tree 
usually propagates itseK by throwing up suckers from the 
root 

The leaves are small, egg-shaped, and serrated, the bark 
rough, though of a finer grain than the oak, and less apt 
to be overgrown with moss and lichen. The wood is not 
so hard nor so enduring as oak, and though it is very 
useful for many purposes, the especial value of the tree is 
rather in its lifetime than after it is cut down. How de- 



XXXV THE ELM TREE 219 

lightfiil is the cool shade of a lane shut in on either side 
with hedgerow elms, those firm grand arms of theirs 
reaching out and embracing, far overhead — hedgerow 
elms, I mean, allowed to grow to their proper form and 
beauty ; not trimmed close and deprived of all their fine 
long branches, as they are in some of our counties, where 
they look more like tail Jacks-in-the-green than like the 
fair-spreading ehn tree. 

Or think of a churchyard bordered round with elms, 
casting their quiet shadow on the graves around, and 
perhaps over a clear streamlet, fencing it in on one side, 
and dividing it from the fresh green meadows beyond, 
the sunlight making its way through the thick leaves, 
and falling in patches on the grass and water and the old 
gray waUs of the church, and quivering and moving about 
so pleasantly when the wind shakes the branches. What 
a fair peaceful spot it is ! closed in from all the world, 
and those noble trees making a sort of outer church, with 
pillars and arches, where the thoughts of the living may 
be sobered, and where the dead rest within the shadow of 
the church. 

Or how pleasant it is to see some park, the greensward 
shaded by taU elms, in threes or pairs, sheltering the cattle 
on hot sunny days, and in early spring loaded with the 
multitudinous nests of noisy rooks. Books like elms 
much better than any other tree, and their black satin 
coats and hoarse chattering voices seldom iajl where these 
trees are numerous, as in the sprii^ they fight over the 
sticks they carry to build their nests. In the summer 
they teach their black children to fly before they can 
feed themselves, and in autumn and winter fly circling 
round and round in the air, collecting for an evening 
assembly, and evidently having a friendly conversation on 



220 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

the best fields for grubs and chaffers, before going to roost^ 
like large black fruit on the elm trees. 

Grandest and best of aU is the elm tree when it stands 
alone in its pride, its magnificent trunk rising like a 
column, and stretching out its protecting arms all round, 
like a monarch in charge of the country. Elm trees grow 
very fast, but they live very long, and some of these fine 
single elms are recorded to be of a great age. There was 
one at Gisors, on the frontier of Normandy, where the 
kings of France and dukes of Normandy used to hold 
conferences together, and which was large enough to shelter 
both their traina It was more than two hundred years 
old when it was cut down by King Philippe Auguste, out 
of hatred to our Plantagenet kinga At the first French 
Revolution a great many fine old elms were cut down 
which bore the name of King Henri IV. (who died in the 
year 1610). He had planted many with his own hand, 
and had recommended the planting of many others round 
churchyards, and to form avenues at the entrance of 
towna 

The first elm trees in Spain were taken thither from 
England by Philip II., who planted them near his palace 
of the Escurial ; and at the beautiful Moorish Grenada, 
in the midst of all the glowing sunshine and southern 
beauty, the English traveller is surprised to find himseK 
in an alley of over-arching elms, green and shady as those 
in the lanes of his own home. 

Queen Elizabeth was a planter of trees, and the oldest 
elm known to exist in England is a stump at Richmond, 
now fenced in and covered with ivy, which was planted 
by her hand, and therefore has always been known by 
the name of the Queen's elm. 

The most interesting of all our English elms is, how- 



zxxy THE ELM TREE 221 

ever, one whicli still stands near the entrance to the 
passage leading to Spring Qardens, for it is that one on 
which King Charles looked as he was going to his martyr- 
dom, saying, **That tree was planted by my brother 
Henry," that brother the remembrance of whose boyish 
days might well 

" Haunt him in no vexing mood, 
When all the cares of life were over.'* 

There is another kind of English elm with broader 
leaves, called the Wych elm, and another sort proper only 
to Scotland, where our English elm was not known till 
after the union of the two kingdoms. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

THE CATKIN RACE 

All tlie trees that follow have their stamens in the smal] 
dusty scales of their catkins, or pussy-cats' tails. 

There is the birch, dark barked, with purple catkins, 
each with four stamens tightly packed away ; and many 
and many a kind of willow. 

Who does not love, in early February, to walk out 
by the side of the hedge or coppice wood, while all is 
moist and fresh, as the sun melts the morning frosty 
and shines with a sweet warm brightness that makes 
us talk of spring coming fast, and spy about to see if 
the dear green world within the brown hedge is feeling 
it yet ? 

The honeysuckle is thinking about it, aye, and on cer- 
tain purplish twigs there shine tufts of silver down, 
growing alternately on each side of the stem. "Pussy, 
pussy ! " we scream with joy — ^the withy is putting on its 
silver buttons, and up we scramble to pull down a shoot^ 
and stroke our lips with that softest, silkiest of down, the 
little scales, within which the buds are safely and warmly 
guarded from the frosts that will nightly brace the young 
bough ; or, should the spring be rainy, this same down 
serves, like the fur of a cat or the feathers of a duck, to 



CHAP. XXXVI THE CATKIN RACE 223 

keep the wet from soaking into the little tender things, 
80 carefully protected. 

Sweet spring-like silver pussies, that last all the cold 
ungenial time, cheerful and kindly ! we are half sorry 
to part with you when you shoot out into the goslings, 
which, however, we love quite as welL And don't the 
bees love them ? Their first taste of fresh sweet pollen 
after their winter's sleep ! How they buzz round and 
load their legs, and what a baking of bee bread there 
must be on those March days, when brighter sunshine 
has unlocked the green buds and brought out the two 
yellow stamens and the delicious smell from within each 
of the silver scales. 

The tuffcs certainly are much like downy yellow gos- 
lings, and are therefore well named from them, soft sweet 
things that they are ; but we also call them Palms, be- 
cause they are in some parts of England carried to church 
on Palm Sunday, since we have no real palm trees, in 
remembrance of the branches that the disciples cut down 
from the trees. In other places the yew branch is used 
instead, because it is one of the few trees still green, and 
its dark leaves show why our Lord was come to Jerusalem 
on that day ; but I think the palm or withy suits best 
Its fragrant soft golden blossom, daring the cold blasts of 
early spring, and foremost of trees in its praise to its 
Maker, is like the little children crying Hosanna in that 
time of trouble and persecution. 

These yellow blossoms are the catkins, the barren 
flowers. The fertile ones are not so pretty; they have 
thick green pistils in a spike, each with a little downy 
wing to fly away with when the seed is perfect The leaf 
comes out much later than the " kindly flower." 

The withy belongs to the great genus of willow, or osier, 



224 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

called in Latin Salix. There are fifty "Rngliftli kinds^ and 
plenty more in other countries. Most of them have a 
longer and more drooping catkin than the goelingy bnt 
this, as well as the pistil, is always downy. They are a 
useful kind, as baskets small and great can testify, b^in- 
ning from the huge bushel basket^ which when foil loaded 
bows down the strong man, to the exquisite little delicate 
white thing that bcdances on the tip of our finger, and 
just holds some bright little pincushion. We "RTigliali 
have been fsunous for our basket-work since the days of 
wicker chariots and British baskets, after which the 
Roman ladies eagerly sought In Holland the bending; 
yielding osier is still more valuable, for it serves to protect 
the great mud banks that keep the sea from' overflowing 
the flat country below, and thus becomes a wall to pre- 
serve the whole population from ruin. Anything harder 
would break under the pressure of the water, but the 
osier can bend and yet retain its hold 

The graceful weeping willow, with its long drooping 
light green boughs, looks very pretty hanging over the 
water, and we honour it and look at it with liking, be- 
cause, as its Latin name, Salix Babylonica, reminds us, it 
was the tree which grew beside the Euphrates, where the 
children of Judah hung their harps when they sat down 
and wept, and those who led them away captive desired 
of them a song and melody in their heaviness. The first 
weeping willow that came to England was brought from 
the marshes of " proud Euphrates' stream." Perhaps you 
would like to read the story of some young weeping 
willows that grow on the banks of the Thames, in the 
beautiful playing fields at Eton. You must know that 
about a hundred years ago some boys named Wellesley 
were sent to school there, and there they did, as they did 



XXXVI THE CATKIN RACE 225 

through all their long lives, what they had to do with all 
their might, and looked chiefly, as Arthur, the younger 
of them, once said, " to doing their duty in that state of 
life in which they had been placed" It is not, however, 
of the great Duke of Wellington that I am going to tell 
you, but of his elder brother, Lord Wellesley, who learnt at 
Eton to make Latin verses, which to you no doubt sounds 
like most difl&cult work, and many boys hate very much. 
But he did his best in work and play, and so he learnt to 
love them both. Well, he grew up and became a great 
great man, and was made Governor-General of India, and 
great conquests came about under his rule, and the two 
brothers were so great that Bonaparte said the Welles- 
leys had done so much for England he thought they 
must mean to make themselves princes of it, for he had 
no notion how men could love their duty better than 
themselves. But after all this greatness, when the Marquis 
Wellesley grew old, what do you think was one of his 
favourite amusements ? It was writing Latin verses, as 
he had done in his school-boy days, and one of the prettiest 
poems he ever made was in both Latin and English, about 
the willows of Babylon, and the captive Jews lamenting 
for their sins and their exile ; and when he died, at eighty- 
three years of age, he desired to be buried in the chapel 
at Eton, and that three weeping willows should be planted 
in the playing fields, that other Eton boys might be put 
in mind that as Sion was ruined because her people fell 
from their God, so our only hope of safety and prosperity 
is in holding fast by Him, or, as he says in his verses, 
that "God^s blessing on sound faith is Britain's force." 
And though you are not an Eton boy, and will never be 
Governor of India, yet I think you can see from his ex- 
ample how to make your present tasks and way of life a 

Q 



226 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. XXXYI 

bright remembrance, to go with you through all your days 
to come, whether many or few. 

A good many trees belong to this tribe, but I have 
told you about most of them, and will just mention 
one which bears downy catkins, very beautiful, though 
most likely you never noticed them, and no wonder, 
for they are so high up that unless there was a very high 
wind to shake them down they would never come in your 
way, I mean the poplar. Its eight stamens are of as 
beautiful a crimson colour as ever you saw, hangiTig irom 
a curious little fringed scale, the pistil-bearing flowers are 
green, also in catkins. The poplar came to us from Italy, 
and is the most tall and straight of all our trees. An 
old-fashioned cottage with a row of poplars before it, and 
beehives under them, is one of our pleasantest sights, but 
unluckily for the poor poplar, its Latin name, popiUtkSy is 
also the word for the people, and so the feustious Bomans 
first, and afterwards the French, chose to take it as a sort 
of mark of rebellion. The French, in the Revolution of 
1848, went about transplanting the poplars from the 
gardens where they were quietly growing, and setting 
them up in the squares of Paris, calling them trees of 
liberty, shouting, and firing cannon, and hanging them 
over with wreaths of everlasting flowers. Of course the 
poor trees all died, and when the people had grown tired 
of all this nonsense Louis Napoleon had them all pulled 
up and burnt. I hope our tall honest poplar trees will 
never be put to so bad a use. 

A kind of purple aspen, with leaves always shaking 
with the least breath, is of this class too; the catkins 
of the aspen come tumbling down in May and strew the 
paths so that I have often taken them for hairy cater- 
pillars. 



CHAPTER XXXVII 

CLASS II 

ENDOGENS — ORCHIDS 

We have worked througli the Exogens or Outward Growers, 
also called Dicotyledons or Two Seed Leaves, and have come 
to the Endogens or Inward Growers, otherwise Mono- 
cotyledons or One Seed Leal 

The first class had parts in fours and fives, these have 
them all in threes, twice threes, and sometimes thrice 
threea And whereas the fb:st class has netted leaves, the 
second has leaves with long ribs going to the point, 
hardly ever branching. 

The first English plant among these is Frog-bit^ a not 
very common plant, with roundish leaves floating on the 
water of pools, three white petals, and nine stamens. 

Another tribe is the pine apple, which grows in so 
curious a manner, its purple six-stamened blossoms being 
perched on each division of what we call the fruit, which 
seems to be in fact a stem crowned with the solid dark 
prickly leaves. It grows in quantities in hot countries, 
though only in hot -houses here. Indeed it has hardly 
been known in this country for more than a hundred 
years, and is still considered as one of the rarest of fruits. 



228 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

It is lucky for us homely people tliat we can do very well 
without it, for we have been given much that is pleasant 
to our taste, and wholesome for us, to grow freely without 
over care or cost under our own temperate sky. 

And next come a wondrous race. 

One of the first glad sights of merry spring are certain 
stars of long, narrow, pointed leaves, spreading on the 
ground, growing one within the other, and often orna- 
mented by bright spots of black. By and by a little 
bud appears in the middle, veiled in a thin silvery case ; 
it grows and it grows till it bursts its sheath, and uplifts 
a fat fleshy stem, bearing a purple spike of long-tailed 
flowers, pleasant to behold in the green copsewood among 
bluebells and primroses, and brilliantly setting off the 
cowslips and marygolds that usually form the chief ground- 
work of May garlands. 

A nice old English name for these flowers was long 
purples ; but village people generally call them by the 
disagreeable name of dead men's hands, because they have 
a root of two long narrow tubers (one dies and they form 
a fresh one every year), and thus most educated people 
know them best by their Latin name of Orchi& 

I don't think any plants that I know are so diflBcult 
to understand as these, but I will do my best to explain 
their structure, for it is very remarkable. The spike 
consists of a number of blossoms, each growing on what 
appears a thick stem, with a long purple leaf at its foot 
This stem is in fact the germ ; you see it is curiously 
twisted, and if it was cut in two and magnified you 
would find it full of young seeds. The corolla is a 
wonderful thing. Behind stretches a long hollow tail, 
a spur, as it is called ; hanging down in front a lip, 
a three -notched petal, beautifully streaked and spotted 



XXXVII ENDOGENS ORCHIDS 229 

with white, black, and purple; at the sides are two 
other petals, which seem to protect the rest, and are 
called the wings, and between them are three very small 
petals, closing together, so as to form a little helmet, 
the casque. The middle one of these three bends over 
a dark purple thing, thick and fleshy-looking. With a 
magnifying glass you can, if you have clever eyes and 
fingers handy in using a pin, discover that this is divided 
down the middle by a sort of seam ; then pulling open 
the seam you wOl find the purple coverii^ is a case for 
two small olive green things shaped more like a comma 
than anything else. These are the pulp in which the 
pollen resides, and the purple case is in fact the anther. 
Filament there is none, and the germ we have seen, 
serving the purpose of a footstalk, while the top of its 
stigma forms a fleshy white cup, opening upwards under 
the anther. Was there ever a stranger construction, all 
the parts seem upside down! We should never have 
found them if botanists had not taught us, and here 
even more than in the compound flowers we should have 
fancied that there was neither pistil nor stamen ; and 
which of the parts of the flower are to be called calyx, 
and which corolla, people are not agreed, though the 
wings are generally termed the calyx. 

The orchises, even in the commonest forms, are the 
strangest of all flowers, if this wonderful structure is 
examined. We have several kinds, to be found almost 
everywhere. The earliest, with the black spotted leaves, 
is the purple orchis, and for old friendship's sake I like 
it best of all, connected as it is with May walks, and 
cuckoos' songs, and pleasant woods, where a little damp 
makes its purple spikes rise high and densely covered, 
growing at a little distance apart, and luring one on 



230 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

throiigli bramble and tangle in the search, and varied in 
endless shades of lilac, from deep dark purple to almost 
pink. The worst of it is that a number of them together 
in water have an unpleasant smelL 

A little later the pretty little green-winged meadow 
orchis springs up all over our pastures in company with 
cowslips. Its wings are always pale green striped with 
brown, but its lip is sometimes very dark purple, some- 
times very pale rose colour, sometimes even white, and 
though a sturdy little plant there is hardly a prettier 
May flower. In the marshy meadows there blossoms at 
the same time the large, tall, noble-looking, broad-leaved 
orchis, its blossoms usually rather a red shade of the 
orchis purple, though varying very mucL You may 
know it from the rest by the length and brown colour of 
the bracts or leaves that grow at the foot of the germs, 
as well as by the breadth of the tapering leaves. Later 
there follows it the aromatic orchis, very red, very sweet, 
its spike very long, and its spurs of a most disproportionate 
length ; and sometimes you may find the pyramidal orchis, 
which looks as if some one had pulled all the blossoms of 
the aromatic orchis up to the top of the stalk into one 
bunch, shaped like a half-opened mushroom, with a peak. 
In woods there come at the same time the spotted orchis, 
a very pretty one, its long narrow leaves very thickly 
dotted with black, and its white flowers with delicate 
purple, and sometimes, though less conmionly, the butter- 
fly orchis. I cannot tell why it is so called, as it is not 
in the least like a butterfly, though perhaps it might 
be compared to certain slender delicate -looking white 
moths. You cannot mistake it when once you see it ; it 
is very unlike anything but itself, and though hardly to be 
called beautiful, has a peculiar grace of its own, in its 



XXXVII ENDOGENS OROHIDS 231 

large, loose, airy, white spike, its long streamer -like 
white lips, its taper greenish wings, and very long curving 
spurs, twisting and crossing each other in a sort of zigzag 
pattern ; above all, there is the pure sweet scent, which 
is more charming in the evening. It always seems 
like a lady of the woods. It is also called the honey- 
suckle orchis, because of its delicious smell, a good deal 
like a honeysuckle ; and the two -leaved orchis, because 
half way up the stem grow a pair of oval leaves, spread- 
ing one on each side. These are not true leaves, only 
bracts, and you see they have not the branching mid-rib 
and network, but have the long ribbon-like veins going 
lengthways, as those growing from the root have, — ^like 
the lily and grass kind, and all the plants which have but 
one cotyledon, and shoot up in sheaths. 

These are the most frequent of the true orchises, all of 
which have spurs. The other families of this tribe are 
without spurs, though other parts of the structure resemble 
those already described, and very curious some of them 
are. The tway-blade, so called from having two such oval 
leaves as the butterfly orchis, grows in much the same 
places, but is not of the same fleshy substance. It has a 
four-cleft lip, that seems to hang out the sign of the little 
green man, with its two arms and two legs and yellow 
head ; but this is not near so like as the man-tway-blade, 
properly so called, is said to be. Of this, however, I 
cannot judge, since I never saw it The bird's nest orchis 
is a very strange plant, growing under beech trees, which 
allow scarcely anything else to come near them in their 
strong desire to keep their domain tidy and allow no 
litter under their branches ; but this little plant comes 
up under the lordly shade of their arching boughs, nay, 
even close to their smooth univied trunks ; and, as if to 



232 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

elude tlieir observation, it wears the livery of their own 
dead leaves, and while in its full prime is as brown — - 
blossom, stem, and all, as if it had been dead for months. 
As to leaves, it attempts none ; it is only glad to find 
sufferance for its brown petals in the deep glades of the 
beech wood. 

In dry pastures grow the lady's tresses, a pretty little 
low plant with blossoms, where the wings are pure white 
and the lip green, the flowers twisting in a spiral line 
round the spike, and I suppose owing their name to 
their way of growth being in the line of the waves of a 
lady's hair. I fancy this must be the flower that village 
children's rhyme means — 

''Daffodils and daisies, 
Rosemary and tresses, 
All the girls in our town 
Must curtsey to the ladies ; 
The bushes so high, the bushes so low, 
Please, my lady, stoop under the bough ! " 

The children always say " traisies,'' but as there is 
no such word I suspect it once meant tressea Do you 
know the game the rhyme belongs to ? Four little girls 
stand together, the arms of two crossed over those of 
the other pair, and sing it together ; when they come to 
the curtseying, they all curtsey, and at the stooping under 
the bough the under pair bend beneath the arms of the 
others, and come within, so as to be enclosed between 
them, and then they all jump till they can hold together 
no longer. 

I don't know whether you can understand this descrip- 
tion, so we will go back to the lady's tresses. If you 
find them at all it will be in quantities ; but the strange 
thing is, that though they are not annual, and grow in 



XXXVII ENDOGENS ORCHIDS 233 

ground by no means liable to be disturbed, they show 
their faces only now and then ; they will come up one 
year and not be seen again for four or five, or else make 
their appearance on some lawn where no one ever ex- 
pected them. 

Hellebonne has long leaves and bracts, and a prettily 
jagged lip. The broad-leaved kind grows in dry woods ; 
the marsh hellebonne has a white under-lip, jagged and 
edged with red ; the large white helleborine, a great 
beauty, looks at first sight like a lily, but is not common. 

I have kept to the last the choicest English orchideous 
plants, the ophrys kind, the lip of which is arranged as if 
for the very purpose of aflfording us sport in forms like 
those of insects. Prettiest of all is the bee ophrys, its 
downy, velvety, curved lip, dark brown mottled with 
yellow, and its pale lilac wings, streaked with green, 
affording a most curious likeness of a bee about to settle 
on a flower. They are just sufficiently rare to make the 
discovery of them delightful I shall never forget the 
ecstacy of my first sight of one, on a mossy bank, in a 
little copsewood dell, two bees full out, and another just 
coming ; it was a scream of joy indeed with which I flew 
at it A few more I have found ; the best mine of them 
was an old chalk pit, now destroyed, and now and then 
they are met with in dry pastures ; but I suspect them 
of the caprices of my lady's tresses, for where I find them 
one year it is almost certain that there they will not be 
the next 

The fly ophrys 1 have but once seen, and then it was 
not growing, but freshly gathered. It looked like a house- 
fly cut out of dark puce velvet, a blue spot on its back, 
and, if I remember right, with jet black eyes. The spider 
ophrys I have never seen. 



234 THE HERB OF THE FEBLD CHAP. XZXYII 

Bnt these wonders of our own do not approach to what 
may be seen in foreign lands, especially in Sonth America. 
There grows a plant, looked on and named in the same 
spirit as the passion flower, as another stamp and token 
of the Chnstian DEuth, set by the hands of its Author, the 
beantiful orchid called by the Spaniards of Panama the 
Espiritu Santo, because it is just like a hovering dove of 
the purest white, a fit emblem indeed for Whit-Sunday. 

Another dove orchis grows there likewise, a large tall 
plant, with flowers like a white dove on her nest, her head 
turned back and her wings slightly raised and touched 
with purple. Another orchid is like a whole shower of 
pale purple and white butterflies, coming down from a 
bough, and this, like many of the tribe, is a parasite, that 
is, it grows on the limbs of trees, like mistletoe ; while 
there is another kind more like sticks of coral than any- 
thing else, the whole plant being of the most glowing 
scarlet, except the flowers, which are deep purple. These 
four I have seen in hot-houses, and marvelled at ; there 
are many more that are grown in the same manner in 
England, and that a few lucky people are able to go and 
admire, but what must they not be in their own home I 

Some grow from the earth, some hang down from the 
trees, some sit on rocks amid moss, some beautify the 
decaying and fallen trees, and their perfume fills the 
woods at night Their forms are beyond everything 
astonishing. The monkey, the mosquito, the ant, are 
only a few of them ; there are hovering birds and every 
wondrous shape, so that travellers declare that the life- 
time of an artist would be too short to give pictures of 
all the kinds that inhabit the valleys of Peru alone. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 

FLAGS 

When France was true and loyal, and her sovereign 
gloried in the title of " Most Christian King," her banner 
was the same as that of these green hosts; and St Lonis 
led his Crusade beneath the waving fleur-de-lys, and wore 
it marked on his robe and on his shield, seeing in its 
threefold formation an emblem of the highest mystery of 
the Christian faith. 

I cannot say that it was weU represented in those 
days ; and the thing with three points carved in stone, or 
represented in gold on a blue ground, which we call the 
" fleur-de-lys," though graceful and beautiful in form, and 
recalling many a bright memory of old fedth and loyalty, 
is a very poor likeness of the lovely iris, or flagflower ; so 
poor, indeed, that we could hardly guess it was intended 
for the same. 

The very name of fleur-de-lys is a mistake, as modem 
botanists have settled it, for it means lily-flower ; and the 
iris in no respect resembles the lily, which we shaU. find 
in the sixth class instead of the third. 

Iris, the botanical name of the flag or fleur-de-lys, 
means the eye of heaven, and was given by the Greeks 
and Romans to the rainbow, which they thought the path 



236 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

of the beautiful messenger of the gods. They were not 
so fsir wrong in this : or perhaps they had some dim 
tradition that the lovely bow in the cloud is reaUy a 
messenger of mercy to us from heaven. 

The name was given to the flower from its varied 
tints, blending into each other as the colours do in the 
rainbow. Purple, blue, and yeUow, of all shades, are to 
be found in these noble flowers, and of such depth and 
richness that no colouring equals them. 

We have two English kinds of iris ; the yellow one 
which grows by the river side, and which perhaps you 
know by the name of the yeUow flag; and the stinking 
flag, a delicate purple one, with a very disagreeable smell, 
which grows in hedges, and ornaments them in autumn 
with its splendid scarlet fruit The great deep purple 
iris, in gardens, comes from Syria, the little red purple 
one from Persia. It was introduced by Queen Henrietta 
Maria, who was very fond of flowers; and the blue and 
yellow sort, with the very narrow leaves, which we 
commonly call the fleur-de-lys, is from Hungary. 

When the irises come into blossom you will see their 
stem coming curiously out from an opening in the edge 
of their broad, and, for the most part, sword -shaped 
leaves, and bearing a thick sheath packed up in the same 
hard straight leaves, containing one or two buds, which, 
like those of the daffodil, are enclosed in a thin trans- 
parent skin, like silver paper, which peels off as the 
blossom unfolds. I daresay you would be puzzled at the 
appearance of the flower; it stands very upright, on a 
green fleshy stem, and seems to consist of nothing but 
nine petals, in threes : three broad beautiful ones, turning 
over and hanging down, with an exquisite pattern in 
blue or yellow, or shades of both, wonderfully blended 



XXXVIII FLAGS 237 

together ; three little plain ones between these larger ones, 
standing up rather pertly; and three more middle sized, 
of a lighter colour, and with a ridge down the middle, 
shutting down like a lid on the inner side of the large 
ones. Where are all the stamens and pistils ? We must 
make a few researches. Suppose we see what is so care- 
fully nursed under that lid. Take hold of it gently by 
that pretty jagged fringed edge which makes a canopy 
over its doorway, lift it up and peep under it How 
beautiful ! It is like looking into a little house ; and such 
a house as it is, with such marblings and paintings, of 
streaks of black, or deep blue, or rich yellow ! And all 
along the middle of the great outer petal is a wonderful 
crest, or rather mane, of beautiful little soft thick hairs, 
forming a downy bed, exactly fitting the shape of the 
long, narrow, stiff inhabitant of this lovely little dwelling. 
I daresay you have recognised this beautifully lodged 
gentleman to be a stamen, with a very long anther, and 
his two brothers live in the other two dwelling-places 
near at hand. It is very curious that they should thus 
lodge apart, instead of being sociably together like the 
stamens of every other flower I know. Now, where is 
the pistil ? Is it not to be found ? Look beneath the 
flower at the stem. This swelling part, regularly divided 
into three ridges, is the germ ; the slender part on which 

the corolla rests is the style ; and the stigma Why ! 

the stigma is what we have been calling the middle-sized 
petals, the lids of the little box containing the stamens. 
Certainly the iris is as wonderful a flower as it is beauti- 
ful It is aU, as you see, in threes ; three large petals, three 
small, three stamens, three divisions of the stigma, three 
of the germ, and there will be three seed-vessels, and three 
seeds in each vessel. Last summer I found the iris 



238 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. XXXVIII 

stamen houses turned to a purpose I did not expect 
They were the very larder whither the spider invited the 
fly. In a large white iris a green vagabond spider, of the 
size and colour of a green pea, had his dwelling. There, 
for a full week, we watched him, lying in wait in the 
middle of the flower, and storing his victims in its divi- 
sions. There were slain and devoured in one week a 
dumbledore, two bees, and flies beyond reckoning, first 
caught, then kept awhile in the yellow and white larder, 
their juices sucked, and at last thrown down to make way 
for a fresh prisoner. The flower fsuled in time, and the 
spider disappeared, having taught us a new use for the iris 
blossom. 

The roots of some irises are bulbous, others are creep- 
ing, especially those that grow near the water. One 
kind, called orris root, is used for a perfume. 

The gladiolus, little sword, or corn-flag, is in some 
points like the iris ; it is a most beautiful flower, but only 
one sort is very common in gardens here ; this is the pink 
kind, which ornaments the com fields of Italy. 

And not distantly related to these flags are the banners 
of spring, the crocus and the snowdrop, which we had in 
Chapter I. Also the daffodil of Chapter II., on March 
flowers. 



CHAPTER XXXIX 

TAMS 

The climbing black bryony does not look as if it was 
an endogen, bnt if you study its lieartHsliaped leaves you 
will see that they have several ribs running from top to 
bottom, not one middle one branching into a network. 
Those leaves become in the autumn of a beautiful pale 
gold, and then a dark purple, almost black. Then it is 
in its beauty, climbing in the hedges, with bunches of 
red and yellow berries like jewels. They come from 
tiny green blossoms, all the six stamens on one plant, all 
the pistil -bearing flowers on another. Down below the 
plant has tubers like potatoes, which used to be scraped 
and made into plasters for bruises, so that it was called 
Beaten Women's Herb. 

It has a tropical relation, almost exactly like it, except 
that while the English bryony twines in spires from right 
to left, the South Sea Yam goes from left to right. Yam 
tubers are as big as vegetable marrows, and taste like 
chestnuts or sweet potatoes. The negroes and the Poly- 
nesians live greatly on them. 

Our only nine-stamened English plant is the beautiful 
pink flowering rush, which grows in rivers, but not very 
frequently. I have only once seen it, and then it was in 



240 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

a river in Gloucestershire. It was almost out of blossom, 
but it was a prize indeed. 

The graceful water plantain, standing up in bogs and 
ditches has white three-petalled six-stamened flowers, and 
the curious arrow-head, also a water plant, nine-petalled, 
and with leaves like a barbed arrow. The pond weeds 
foUow. You see the green leaves over black stagnant 
water, and heads like plantain poking up, first of little 
green blossoms and then of green seeds. 

It is a great leap from these to those splendid trees the 
palms. The growth of an asparagus is more like that of 
a palm tree than anything we have here, and I have read 
that an infemt palm, when it is in the state in which we 
eat asparagus shoots, is more like a wheat sheaf than any- 
thing else. Thus the palm tree never forms such firm 
solid wood as to be of much use, and the inner part is the 
weakest instead of the strongest The great body of leaves 
all grow out together at the top, and enormous and beauti- 
ful leaves they are, all in one, spreading out so as to form 
a glorious crown for the tree, taller than any tree we ever 
see here. 

These unfading palm leaves have always been the 
tokens of victory. The Bible speaks of them as borne by 
the martyr host in heaven ; and at Christ's entry into 
Jerusalem the branches strewn in the way are believed 
to have been those of the palm. On Palm Sunday, 
through all the south of Europe, palms are carried in 
procession, solemnly blessed, and laid up with high honour 
to be kept for the rest of the year. 

The palm of Palestine is the date palm, which has 
feathery leaves, and bears the sweet fruit that is so precious 
to the Arabs in the desert, forming almost their whole 
subsistence on long journeys. 



XXXIX 



YAMS 241 



It is one of those that can live fiulihest from the 
equator; these trees in general can only bear a very hot 
climate. The only one I ever saw was in a hot-house, 
a fan -palm, it grew much like a grass, but at the joint, 
instead of hanging down a streamer, it put out a circular 
fan with a jagged edge. Some palms have a very few 
leaves, spreading out like umbrellas, but immense feathers 
and plumes are the most usual shape. Some are deep 
green, some silver white on the under side, some Mnged 
mth yellow and blue. I cannot teU you half what I have 
read of their beauty. You must look for it in foreign 
books, especially those about South America and the 
South Sea Islands, in which places they grow to the 
grandest size. That which is best known to us is the 
cocoa-nut palm, at least its hard round fruits are. Fine 
fellows, as large as a baby's head, covered with brown 
fibre, and their shell so hard that it will serve to break a 
loan's head, as the ill-treated elephant showed. At the 
bottom of the nut are the three spots called the monkey's 
face, two hard, the third soft as the young plant might have 
sprouted through it. Piercing this, out flows the delicious 
cocoa-nut milk, with its nutty flavour, nearly a wine-glass 
full, even when we have them here after a long voyage. 

The Pirijao of South America has the handsomest &uit 
in the world, egg-shaped, as large as a peach, of a golden 
colour, shaded with crimson on one side. It grows in 
clusters of seventy or eighty, like giants' painted grapes, 
each tree bearing three of these mighty bunches, hanging 
down under delicate flag-like leaves, curled at the edges, 
all at the summit of one straight trunk sixty or seventy 
feet in height There are seldom seeds in these lovely 
fruits, which are used by the Indians like potatoes. In 
fact I believe there is no palm that is not in some way 

R 



242 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. XXXIX 

useful, and of which the &uit is not wholesoma The 
stamen-bearing flowers are, in some kinds, very handsome, 
generally growing like those of their lesser lily-like 
cousins, in a spathe. They are generally yellowish, and 
crowded closely together, but now and then they are large 
and of a dazzling white, hanging down in resplendent 
garlands. 

The bread-fruit tree and the cow tree belong also to 
this valuable tribe. 



CHAPTER XL 

REEDS 

Do you know any river or pool where grows the great 
bulrush, with a wavy brown head of smaU three-stamened 
chaffy blossoms, dark brown or purple ? Fine fellows are 
they; sometimes known by the name of lung-reed, but I 
like best to call them bulrushes, and you may know why 
in one moment, though of course it is not to be supposed 
that the little reed-woven ark where the infEtnt prophet 
slept safely, as he floated among the monsters in the Nile 
waters, could be the same bulrush that we see in our 
streams. Indeed that was the paper-reed. 

No monsters are found in the haunts of our bulrushes ; 
the dragon-flies do indeed flit round them, and settle on 
their long leaves, to devour their prey, but the other 
dwellers in their pools are all harmlesa The moorhen's 
damp cradle is found in their shelter, the dabchick swims 
imder their tall leaves with her tiny brood, and the water- 
rat dives and rises, peering round with keen black eyea 

You little girls have little chance of gathering for 
yourselves one of the grave mace-bearers of the armies of 
flags and spears, you must get some big brother, who cares 
little for wet, to plunge in after them ; and most likely 
he will be glad to make a commotion among all those 



244 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

dwellers in the pools, and send them splashing and diving 
their different ways. I hope he will not forget to bring 
you back one of our clubs, a tall stem, long, narrow, 
tapering leaves, and bearing the large round mace, some- 
what of the size and shape of a candle, with a wick 
as long as itself Early in the season the dub part^ 
which consists in reality of the fertile flowers, is of a 
greenish brown, while the upper slenderer portion, which 
I called the wick, is covered with long anthers growing 
quite close together. By August these have scattered their 
pollen and withered away, leaving only their stalk, look- 
ing broken and rough, but making a good finish to the 
club, which has become of a very deep dark brown colour 
and soft plush -like texture. By and by all the little 
downy seeds of which it consists will break out and fly 
away, to sow the reed-maces of next year. They are 
sometimes called bulrushes, but they are really cats'-tails, 
or reed-maces. 

The bur reeds are to be found by banks of rivers, in 
places much like the haunts of the bulrush. They have 
branching stems, bearing a number of little balls, some all 
yellow, consisting of stamens, some all brown or all green, 
the pistils with white stigmas, the leaves lance-shaped, 
and the whole plant very handsome, often with a large 
black fat slug enjoying himseK on the back of a leal 

The next plant is one that can hardly find a likeness 
anywhere, the arum — that is to say, better known to most 
of my friends as lords and ladies. Do you not like creep- 
ing along the hedge bank, poking into the clusters of 
heart-shaped, black-spotted, handsome, shining leaves, for 
the tall, green, roUed-up spike, which your busy fingers 
quickly undo, while tongues are busy guessing whether 
it will disclose a red -faced lord, with his slender neck 



XL 



REEDS 245 



encircled by a red and white collar of gems, or a delicate 
white lady ! Or here and there, if late enough, you find 
what I used to call my lord or my lady in a coach — ^the 
sheath open, and making a beautiful green bower over its 
inhabitant, looking, as I now think, like the drapery we 
sometimes see in pictures, floating, and swelled by the 
wind, over a sea-nympL 

My lord or my lady is in truth the stem, the collar of 
gems is the blossom ; the stamens, as usual, grow above, 
in the upper row of beads ; the fertile flowers are beneath, 
and in time give place to scarlet berries, which look very 
bright in the autumn. I believe they are poisonous ; but 
the root, when dried, cleaned, and ground, becomes a soft, 
white flour, which is known by the name of arrow-root, 
or, as it ought to be called, arum-root The most esteemed 
arrow-root is brought from the West Indies, but our own 
lords and ladies would, I believe, make it just as good. 
There is another kind sometimes grown in greenhouses, 
where the sheath is of the purest white, and the lord 
bright yellow ; and in Greece my lord goes into mourning, 
and appears quite black, most beautiful, but with a horrible 
scent 

And one word of the funny duckweed, a green veil 
over the black water of the pond, with no roots at all, 
only one little fibre hanging down below the leaf, to drink 
the water ; and as for flower it has none, but it keeps its 
two stamens and one pistil in its pocket 

Yes, really in a little pocket on one side of the leaf, 
where, if you look very sharp, you may just see the two 
tiny anthers peeping out, as the eyes of the young kan- 
garoos do out of their mother's pouch. 



CHAPTER XLI 

LILIES OF THE FIELD 

It is pleasant to have to come at last to considermg the 

Lilies of the Field, how they grow in their beauty, and 

the glory of their raiment. 

Most fair, and pure and r^al of all, stands the great 

white lily, 

"The Lily flower, 
With blessed Mary seen," 

which in pictures of the Annunciation is always drawn in 
the hand of the angeL There is nothing more purely 
white than the petals of this lily, not fragile and fading 
at a touch, like that other delicate thing, the convolvulus, 
but firm and steadfast, retaining their whiteness unsullied 
to the last How exquisitely do the grand, queen-like 
flowers stand out from the tall stem, feathered upwards 
with narrow leaflets, and crowned with half-opened flowers 
and tapering buds. Very handsome, too, are the six long 
stamens, bearing their caskets of gold dust, as if waiting 
on the graceful bending pistil in the midst, all shut within 
those superb white petals. It is truly the queen of our 
gardens, and when we know that its native home is the 
Holy Land, we may please ourselves with thinking that it 
may have been the very flower of which our blessed Lord 



OHAP. XLI LILIES OF THE FIELD 247 

spoke, when He said that Solomon in all his glory was 
not arrayed like one of these. No raiment, indeed, that 
ever was spun or woven can be as one of these, nothing 
can ever be so lovely save the robes, unseen by us, in which 
each heir of our royal birth is arrayed when carried from 
the font. Those are the only robes for which we need 
take thought, and, oh, how much thought ! 

White lilies are freely given to us with all their store 
of precious thoughts. They spread fast, they care little 
for cold or heat, they flourish in cottage gardens or smoky 
towns, and they live so long in water that a sick-room 
may often be cheered by their loveliness. I told you 
there was a confusion between the lily and fleur-de-lys, 
and so, though it is the iris that is found in the French 
coat of arms, the white lily is the especial flower of the 
royal line of France. It was scattered on their path when 
they returned after the great Revolution, and the name of 
the white lily still thrills the hearts of those who cling to 
the old faith and loyalty. 

Some people think white lilies useful as well as beau- 
tiful ; indeed I daresay many of us can remember getting 
some hard knock or bruise, and how the useful person of 
the family, who is always nurse, doctor, and healer of 
cuts, came out with her bottle of white lily leaves pre- 
served in brandy, and though they did make the hurt 
smart, she comforted us so kindly that we could not help 
being cheered up. 

I believe the Tiger lily, with its orange petals and 
their black spots, also comes from the Levant. The 
Turk's cap is so called because its petals turn backwards 
into a round form, and, together with the stamens, iook 
very like the pictures of Eastern princes, be-turbaned and 
be-plumed, just what would suit Blue Beard. Its home 



248 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

is in Qermanj ; and that of the brilliant scarlet Martagon 
is Hungary. There are many other species of lily, all 
very handsome, for the most part large, and all without 
any calyx. They have bulbous roots, and indeed I have 
told you all the general features of the whole tribe when 
speaking of the snowdrop and daffodil, so I will only 
mention a few of the most noted and beautiful kindsL 

The tulip takes care not to be forgotten. Dressed in 
its gaily -painted robes, it holds nearly the same place 
among flowers as the peacock among birds, and always 
stands as an emblem of conceit Tou know its black 
stamens and its great triangular pistil It is altered by 
cultivation from a small species which grows wild in some 
few parts of England, and is the especial darling of the 
Dutch, who sometimes give enormous prices for a single 
root There is a story of a sailor who, while waiting in 
a merchant's office, took up what he thought was an onion, 
sliced it up with his knife, and eat it Just as he had 
finished there was a great search for something, and much 
dismay when it was missing, for behold, the onion which 
he had eaten was a precious tulip, the price of which 
would have bought his ship and its lading twice over ! 
Some little children who meddle with what they don't 
understand, and what does not belong to them, may do 
just as much mischief. 

Very like the tulip is the delicate, bending, drooping 
fritillary, chequered with purple squares like a chess- 
board, or a snake's head ; indeed it is sometimes called 
the snake flower. It is not very common in England, 
and the only place where I know it grows wild is at 
Oxford. 

A far grander flower is the great fritillary, called the 
crown imperial ; its circlet of bells, each possessing six 



XLI LILIES OF THE FIELD 249 

drops of clear nectar, depending gracefully beneath the 
crown of narrow leaves, making it a magnificent plant; 
and it weU may be called an imperial one, since its native 
land is the old empire of Persia, then it came to Constan- 
tinople, and then to Vienna, where it grew in the em- 
X)eror's garden, and thence was sent to England — certainly 
before Queen Elizabeth's tima As soon as the blossoms 
fade the stems stifiEen and hold up their heads, so as to 
keep the seed from falling out 

Garlic and onions belong to this class, as you may 
see by looking at the six-pointed blossoms in the round 
head of the onion. 

So does the great tropical plant the aloe. 

I like few names of flowers better than that of the 
Star of Bethlehem, a brilUant white star in truth, glancing 
among its long green leaves, and well fitted to put us in 
mind of the Star of the East It is an Eastern star, for 
it comes from Palestine, and though sometimes found wild 
in England it is probably a runaway from the old convent 
gardens, whither, perhaps, it was brought^ with its name, 
by some pilgrim from the Holy Land. 

I am not fond of keeping so much to garden flowers 
as we have done this time ; but the fact is that these 
flowers, with their parts in sixes, are all so handsome that 
they are sure to get into gardens. The blue-bell (I mean 
the wild hyacinth, the English blue-bell, not the hare- 
bell, or blue -bell of Scotland) is wild enough indeed, 
spreading in perfect clouds over the copses, and supplying 
the main strength of the May-day garlands, drooping its 
profuse blue bells in such multitudes, each footstalk bear- 
ing a little bract ^ as blue as the flower. How pretty are 
the buds pressed close together in that cluster, and how 

^ Bracts are leaves growing at the foot of the flower-stalk. 



248 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

is in (Germany ; and that of the brilliant scarlet Martagon 
is Hungary, There are many other species of lily, all 
very handsome, for the most part large, and all without 
any calyx. They have bulbous roots, and indeed I have 
told you all the general features of the whole tribe when 
speaking of the snowdrop and daffodil, so I will only 
mention a few of the most noted and beautiful kindsL 

The tulip takes care not to be forgotten. Dressed in 
its gaily -painted robes, it holds nearly the same place 
among flowers as the peacock among birds, and always 
stands as an emblem of conceit Tou know its black 
stamens and its great triangular pistil It is altered by 
cultivation from a small species which grows wild in some 
few parts of England, and is the especial darling of the 
Dutch, who sometimes give enormous prices for a single 
root There is a story of a sailor who, while waiting in 
a merchant's office, took up what he thought was an onion, 
sliced it up with his knife, and eat it Just as he had 
finished there was a great search for something, and much 
dismay when it was missing, for behold, the onion which 
he had eaten was a precious tulip, the price of which 
would have bought his ship and its lading twice over ! 
Some little children who meddle with what they don't 
understand, and what does not belong to them, may do 
just as much mischief. 

Very like the tulip is the delicate, bending, drooping 
fritillary, chequered with purple squares like a chess- 
board, or a snake's head ; indeed it is sometimes called 
the snake flower. It is not very common in England, 
and the only place where I know it grows wild is at 
Oxford. 

A far grander flower is the great fritillary, called the 
crown imperial ; its circlet of bells, each possessing six 



XLI LILIES OF THE FIELD 249 

drops of clear nectar, depending gracefully beneath the 
crown of narrow leaves, making it a magnificent plant; 
and it weU may be called an imperial one, since its native 
land is the old empire of Persia, then it came to Constan- 
tinople, and then to Vienna, where it grew in the em- 
peror's garden, and thence was sent to England — certainly 
before Queen Elizabeth's tima As soon as the blossoms 
fjEuie the stems stifiCen and hold up their heads, so as to 
keep the seed from falling out 

GarUc and onions belong to this class, as you may 
see by looking at the six-pointed blossoms in the round 
head of the onion. 

So does the great tropical plant the aloe. 

I like few names of flowers better than that of the 
Star of Bethlehem, a bnlUant white star in truth, glancing 
among its long green leaves, and well fitted to put us in 
mind of the Star of the East It is an Eastern star, for 
it comes from Palestine, and though sometimes found wild 
in England it is probably a runaway from the old convent 
gardens, whither, perhaps, it was brought^ with its name, 
by some pilgrim from the Holy Land. 

I am not fond of keeping so much to garden flowers 
as we have done this time ; but the fact is that these 
flowers, with their parts in sixes, are all so handsome that 
they are sure to get into gardens. The blue-bell (I mean 
the wild hyacinth, the English blue-bell, not the hare- 
bell, or blue -bell of Scotland) is wild enough indeed, 
spreading in perfect clouds over the copses, and supplying 
the main strength of the May-day garlands, drooping its 
profuse blue bells in such multitudes, each footstalk bear- 
ing a little bract ^ as blue as the flower. How pretty are 
the buds pressed close together in that cluster, and how 

^ Bracts are leaves growing at the foot of the flower-stalk. 



248 TEtE HERB OF THE FIELD 

it in Oermanj ; and that of the brillmnt scarlet 
ia Hungary. There are many other species • 
mry handsome, for the meet part haga, and i 
any calyx. They have bulbous toots, and inde 
told yon all the general features of the whole 
speaking of Ute snowdrop and daffodil, so I 
mention a few of the most noted and beautiful 

The tnlip takes cue not to be forgotten. 
its gaily-painted robea, it holds nearly the i 
among flowers as the peacock among birds, a 
stands as an emblem of conceit Yon know 
stamens and its great triangular pistil. It is 
cultivation from a small species which grows wi 
few parts of England, and is the especial darl 
Dutch, who sometimes give enormous prices ft 
root There is a stoiy of a sailor wbo, while 
a merchant's office, took up what be thought wai 
diced it up with bis knife, and eat it Just 
finished tliere was a great search for something, 
dismay when it was missing, for behold, the oi 
he had eaten was a precious tulip, the price 
would have boi^ht his ship and its lading t\ 
Some little children who meddle with what 
understand, and what does not belong to thei 
just as much mischief 

Very like the tulip ia the delicate, bending 
fritillary, chequered with purple squares lib 
board, or a snake's head ; indeed it ia sometii 
the snake flower. It is not very common in 
and the only place where 1 know it grows 
Oxford. 

A &r grander flower is the great fi-itillary, 
crown imperial ; its circlet of bells, each pos 



ULOB OF THE HELD 



249 



r Bedar, depending gracefully beneath the 
Donrleavei^ making' it a mii^aiificent plant; 
tf be called an imperial one, since iu native 
1 cmpiie of Penia, then it came to Conatan- 
dis& to Vienna, where it ^-w in the em- 
, and theiioe was Dent to En^Lind — certainly 
Eliabeth's time. As soon as the blossoms 
■tifleoi and hold up their heads, so as to 

I Wwn ffcllitig out. 

onioDB belong to this class, as you may 
at the Bix-pointc<l blossoms in the round 
km. 

tropical plaut the aloe. 
of flowers better than that of the 
[mn, a brilliant white star in truth, glancing 
; green leaves, and well fitted to put us in 
lar of the East It is an £<istem star, for 
Palestine, and though sometimes found wild 
ia probably a runaway from the old convent 
jBTy perhaps, it w:is l)n)ught, with its name, 
m from the Holy Land. 
nd of keeping so much to garden flowen 
one this time ; but the fact is that tiieae 
heir parts in tjixes, are all so hitn^^ff^ynK* that 
to get into gardens. The blue-beU (I mean 
emtfa, the English blue-bell, not the hare- 
-bdl of Scotland) is wild enough indeed, 
pafect doud-s over the copses^ and aopplying 
Vgtfa. of the May-ilay garlandt^ drooping its 
Ub in such multitudes, each ibototalk bear- 
let^ as blue a.s the flower. ^^ P««tty are 
ai dose toj^ether in that dv^^» and how 
kknes growiiii: at tlie foot 



the 
of the 
ou are 



you 
C^bsbdnezzar 
.. you think 
should have 
sugar, to say 
"butter, and 
IB which live 

plies to every 
stem smooth, 
% conasting ol 
roUed tip ^^ 
3,t one of ^^ 
,d hangs down, 
Bxt above it be- 
ues till tihe next 
^ on tJie oppo- 
contains a certain 
Bt«m, properly so 



250 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

graceful the long linear leaves. I daresay most children 
happy enough to be brought up in the country would 
say, as I do, that some of their most joyous days have 
been spent in blue-bell gathering. I shall never forget 
one walk, nor I am sure will the little cousin who shared 
it with me, when we went through a beautiful wood, tall 
trees above, and a path winding along close to the sea, which 
sparkled and glanced through their leaves, and on the 
other side a mossy bank rising, covered with such a pro- 
fusion of blue -bells ! How we filled our hands with 
them ! And having agreed that we would be very good, 
each made a point of giving the other her very finest, 
most thickly clustered bells, or the precious white ones, 
or the still more valued pale lilac, which we used to call 
pink, and think such a prize ! And then, when our 
nurse got into a hurry and told us to gather no more, 
I can still remember the feeling of resolution with which 
we passed the choicest^ not attempting to gather them, 
though of course, just because we had not got them, they 
seemed the best of alL Only think, if that walk is 
so pleasant to me to remember after twenty years, and 
because I was honestly trying to be a good little girl, 
as well as for the sake of my companion, does it not show 
us the lasting value of really loving and trying to do 
right 1 The thought of those untouched flowers is pre- 
cious still, and will always be so ; but would it be so if 
we had disobeyed and turned aside after them ? Depend 
upon it, it will be just the same in greater matters, for a 
day will come when what we most prize now will be as 
worthless to us as are in themselves the blue-bells of 
twenty years ago. The love and the self-restraint will be 
the lasting things. 

Even blue -bells cannot keep entirely among wild 



XLI LILIES OF THE FIELD 251 

flowers, for the blue-bell is a hyacinth, and its Eastern 
brother, the hyacinth of Bagdad, is one of the most petted 
of plants. In its natural state the blossom is not so long 
and slender as the blue-bell, nor are the ends of the petals 
so prettily curled back. We generally see it double, 
and of many varieties, to which strai^e names are given. 
The hyacinth carries so much nourishment in its bulb as 
to require no earth, and many town children know the 
pleasure of keeping a bulb ill a glass all the winter, 
watching it shoot out its long white fibres into the water 
beneath, and set up its almond-shaped bud, which grows 
and spreads till leaves and stem and blossoms, blue, white, 
or pink, unfold themselves. Grecian legends say that 
this flower sprang from the blood of Hyacinthus, a beau- 
tiful youth, who was killed by accident by their god 
Apollo, and its leaves are marked with L A., the first 
letters of his name in Greek ; but no one ever has been 
able to find any such marks on them, nor on the wild 
blue-bell, which is therefore called in Latin Hyacinthus 
non scriptus, the unwritten hyacinth. 

Do you know that stiff yellow thing, the Asphodel, its 
hard orange stem, its grass-like bluish leaves, its star of 
six petals, and six downy stamens tipped with a red 
anther ? We hear a great deal in poetry about dwelling in 
Ineads of yellow asphodel ; but they are not at all the places 
I could fancy dwelling in, though I like very much to 
botanise in them, for they are generally peaty bogs full of 
black moist earth. I think they must have been admired 
by the Greeks as being connected with the mountain air 
and fresh breezes delightful in so hot a country, and 
that they have travelled from Greek into English poetry 
without much reason. 



CHAPTER XLII 

ASPARAGUS 

Separated from the true lilies by beanng round berries 
is the beautiful lily of the valley, Rhading its pearly bells 
under its broad green leaf It is wild in some fortunate 
woods, and there each petal is marked with a single deep 
purple spot, but strangely enough these disappear as soon 
as the root is transplanted into a garden. How well they 
grow and thrive in some old-fiBishioned gardens, spreading 
out in a whole wilderness of green, and raising their lovely 
modest heads ! 

Solomon's seal is of the same genus, and a very pretty 
plant it is, its bending stem furnished with broad green 
leaves, growing alternately, and at the spring of each 
leaf a pale green bell drooping gracefully down Both it 
and the lily of the valley have their seed in a purple 
berry. 

Asparagus is another six-stameued plant, which is good 
for food, though it is not the red and yellow berries that 
yre eat, as they hang on the feathery little trees that form 
such pretty groves along the beds in autumn It is the 
young buds of the plant itself that form the thumbs (as 
the French call them) of asparagus, that are so good to 
eat in the spring. It grows wild in one small island on 



OHAP. XLII ASPARAGUS 253 

the coast of Cornwall, called after it Asparagus Island, and 
also on the coast of the Isle of Wight 

Here, too, you will find the sedges — plenty of them — 
for there are sixty-two English kinds, many of them very 
common by river sides and in woods. You would be apt 
at first sight to call them grasses, but though their first 
cousins they belong to a different family, and are of no 
use to man, whereas grasses are most valuable. 

They are known by always having a three-cornered 
stem, remarkably harsh to the touch, and no wonder, for 
it is full of silex, the substance that gives hardness to flint 
stonea This is very wonderful, but I cannot explain it 
The leaves do not, like those of the grasses, form the stem 
itself, though they seem at first sight to do so, for they 
are rolled round the stem at the lower part and sheath it 
They are generally of a pale yellowish green, suiting the 
autumn tints, when the wood sedges usually blossom. 
The flowers grow in separate spikes, the fertile ones the 
lowest down, and generally all green, consisting of small 
chaflfy scales protecting a hairy, bottle-shaped, two-divided 
germ, with three stigmas. The barren spikes are much 
prettier, for their scales SLre dark brown or black, and their 
anthers hang from them in multitudes of yellow or sulphur 
colour. A spike in full flower, bowing in its graceful 
spanner its soft yeUow plume, between two darkened un- 
opened spikes on the bending stem, presents so pretty a 
mixture of colour that I wonder we do not offcener see it 
in river -side nosegays. In every blossom of this thick 
scaly head are three stamens, for the sedge is as constant 
to the rule of three as its relations the grass and the rush. 

One of these rushes is the Papyrus, the reed of Egypt, 
on the rind of which, in former times, people used to 
write with an iron pen, digging in the letters. It was 



CHAPTER XLII 

ASPARAGUS 

Separated from the true lilies by bearing round berries 
is the beautiful lily of the valley, shading its pearly bells 
under its broad green lea£ It is wild in some fortunate 
woods, and there each petal is marked with a single deep 
purple spot, but strangely enough these disappear as soon 
as the root is transplanted into a garden. How well they 
grow and thrive in some old-fBishioned gardens, spreading 
out in a whole wilderness of green, and raising their lovely 
modest heads ! 

Solomon's seal is of the same genus, and a very pretty 
plant it is, its bending stem furnished with broad green 
leaves, growing alternately, and at the spring of each 
leaf a pale green beU drooping gracefully down. Both it 
and the lily of the valley have their seed in a purpl* 
berry. 

Asparagus is another six-stameued plant, which is good 
for food, though it is not the red and yellow berries that 
we eat, as they hang on the feathery little trees that form 
such pretty groves along the beds in autumn. It is the 
young buds of the plant itself that form the thumbs (as 
the French call them) of asparagus, that are so good to 
eat in the spring. It grows wild in one small island on 



OHAP. XLIT ASPARAGUS 253 

the coast of Cornwall, called after it Asparagus Island, and 
also on the coast of the Isle of Wight 

Here, too, you will find the sedges — plenty of them — 
for there are sixty-two English kinds, many of them very 
common by river sides and in woods. You would be apt 
at first sight to call them grasses, but though their first 
cousins they belong to a different family, and are of no 
use to man, whereas grasses £tre most valuable. 

They are known by always having a three-cornered 
stem, remarkably harsh to the touch, and no wonder, for 
it is full of silex, the substance that gives hardness to flint 
stones. This is very wonderful, but I cannot explain it 
The leaves do not, like those of the grasses, form the stem 
itself, though they seem at first sight to do so, for they 
are rolled round the stem at the lower part and sheath it 
They are generally of a pale yellowish green, suiting the 
autumn tints, when the wood sedges usually blossom. 
The flowers grow in separate spikes, the fertile ones the 
lowest down, and generally aU green, consisting of small 
chafiy scales protecting a hairy, bottle-shaped, two-divided 
germ, with three stigmas. The barren spikes are much 
prettier, for their scales are dark brown or black, and their 
anthers hang from them in multitudes of yellow or sulphur 
colour. A spike in full flower, bowing in its graceful 
^lianner its soft yellow plume, between two darkened un- 
opened spikes on the bending stem, presents so pretty a 
mixture of colour that I wonder we do not oftener see it 
in river- side nosegays. In every blossom of this thick 
scaly head are three stamens, for the sedge is as constant 
to the rule of three as its relations the grass and the rush. 

One of these rushes is the Papyrus, the reed of Egypt, 
on the rind of which, in former times, people used to 
write with an iron pen, digging in the letters. It was 



254 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. ZLII 

from this that paper was named. It was the real bul- 
rush of Moses' ark. I have a piece of this paper rush 
which was raised iu a hot-house ; it is very large, a regular 
triangle in shape, the blossoms on branches all growing 
out together at the top. The green skin is tough and 
leathery, not at all like paper, you would say, and it is 
filled with a quantity of white pith. The skin was spread 
out on frames and written on — or rather scratched into 
with a sharp pen — in the curious picture-writing of 
ancient Egypt Many of these writings have been found 
and read by scholars, and you may see them framed and 
glazed all along the walls of the British Museum. 

The spider-wort has all its flowers packed up in a 
sheath^ and has linear leaves. 



CHAPTER XLIII 

ORASSBS 

Here, in this Endogen class, are those precious gifts the 
grasses, perhaps the most valuable of the whole of the 
vegetable creation, the food of man and beast Tou are 
surprised now, for you never thought of eating grass, you 
never heard of any one who did, excepting Nebuchadnezzar 
in the time of his punishment But what shall you think 
when I tell you that without grasses you would have 
neither bread, beer, gruel, porridge, rice, nor sugar, to say 
nothing of the mutton and beef, the milk, butter, and 
cheese, which are supplied to us by animals which live 
on grasses ! 

I wiU give you a description which appHes to every 
kind of grass. The root is creeping, the stem smooth, 
round, hoUow, and jointed, the lower part consisting of 
leaves ; long, narrow, undivided leaves, roUed up and 
sheathed one over the other. At each joint one of these 
leaves ceases to embrace the others, and hangs down, 
tapering off to a point, while the one next above it be- 
comes the outside covering, and so continues till the next 
joint) where it, too, op&nB and hangs down, on the oppo- 
site side to the former one. Each joint contains a certain 
quantity of sweet sugary juice. The stem, properly so 



256 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

called, sprmgB from within the last leaf, and supports the 
blossom, which grows in a head, tuft, or spike, containing 
a number of small flowers. Each flower has of its own 
two scales, by way of corolla and calyx, one over the 
other, and the outer one ending in a sharp point or bristle, 
and these, by the assistance of the scales of the next 
flower, enclose a soft, pulpy, sweet germ, bearing two tiny 
styles and three stamens, with very long weak filaments, 
which hang their anthers out &r beyond the flower. 

If you think about it you will see then that wheat is 
really a large kind of grass. The spike of blossom is the 
ear, and in July you may see the anthers harigiTig ou^ 
and a beautifal shape they are — ^much prettier than any 
other anthers I know. Though there is much to say, and 
little space to say it in, it would be unthankful not to 
dwell for a little while on the beauty and precious thoughts 
belonging '' to seed time and to harvest tida" 

The seed is cast forth for the soil to foster, even as our 
hearts are bidden to foster that more precious seed, and 
then, if it Mis into good ground, it puts forth its green 
blades, that seem at first to be like a thin veil over the 
dark brown earth, which then thicken and spread in their 
weU-ordered rows till the whole field bears that loveliest 
of aU hues, the green of young wheat in spring. Taller 
and taller grow the spikes, sheath and pennon rise, joint 
above joint, till thick and high they stand, so high, that 
a little child's head is quite lost between the ranks on 
either side the field path, and it feels for a moment as if 
it was lost in a dense forest, and trots along in a fright to 
overtake its mother. The uppermost sheath swells and 
Gp&UB a long slit, within which is the tender green ear, 
shooting out daily higher and higher on the slender green 
stalk, and in time hardening its chaffy scales and putting 



XLiii GRASSES 257 

fortli its antliers. This is tlie time of dread lest a hail- 
storm should break or bend the straw and send the whole 
crop flat, so that it cannot blossom or ripen equally, and 
may be tied down by bind-weed. It is the time when 
we most feel that man may do his utmost but Gk)d alone 
can give the increase. 

But now the anthers have shed their pollen and fallen, 
their duty being done ; the sweet pulpy germ is harden- 
ing and turning to " the full com in the ear," and over 
straw and blade and ear a pale rich golden tint is gradu- 
ally descending ; the hillsides and valleys far away stand 
so thick with com that they laugh and sing ; the fields 
are truly white to the harvest, and the sunny waves of 
wind pass over them as they bend softly and rise again. 

Now comes the harvest, to which all the village, small 
and great, have been looking forward so long. Out they 
aU turn, father and mother, great sons and daughters, to 
reap, and little ones to look after lesser ; long paths and 
gaps open before them, and the beautiful clusters of sheaves 
appear in the stubble ; the merry cry rings out when the 
last field is reaped — 



We have plonghed, we have sowed, 
We have reaped, we have mowed." 



And then some wild cheery shout to finish with. And 
then the carting, the loading, the waggons with the noble 
brown loads heaped high — ^higher; the round mow built 
up, and the builder rising higher in the air with every 
round of sheaves ; and the last waggon with the horses 
with green boughs coming late home, perhaps by the 
light of the round harvest moon. 

" Our work is over, over now, 
The good man wipes his wearj' brow; 

S 



258 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

The last long wain wends alow away. 
And we are free to sport and play. 
The night comes on when sets the snn. 
And labonr ends when day is done. 
When summer ends and automn's come 
We hold our jovial harvest home." 

And last of all the gleaning, or, as the gleaners geneiEally 
call it, the leasing. 

Beautifal things in themselyes, beantifdl in the thoughts 
they bring with them — ^the good seed — ^the seed sown in 
grie^ which shall be brought again with joy — ^the good 
man in his old age going down to his grave in peace, like 
a shock of com in faU season — and lastly, the great har- 
vest day, when the cry shall be, " Put ye in the sickle to 
the com," and the reapers shall be the angels. 

In the Holy Land the harvest is much earlier than 
here ; it comes about Easter, and this explains how it is 
that the feast of weeks at Whitsuntide should have been 
the festival of thanksgiving for the harvest. How beau- 
tiful the oflfering of the first-fruits was, when the Israelite 
brought his sheaf for the priest to wave before the Lord, 
acknowledging the mercy by saying, "A Syrian ready to 
perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt and 
became a great nation." 

Did you ever see Egyptian wheat ? I have some which 
sprung from seeds found within the case of a mummy 
which must have been embalmed at least three thousand 
years ago. The form of it would make you understand 
the seven ears on one stalk in Pharaoh's dream, for each 
ear is very wide, and spreads out into seven, nine, or 
eleven little points on each side, so as to be so many ears 
in one. 

Next to wLeat comes barley, John Barleycorn, "his 



XLIII 



GRASSES 259 



head well armed with pointed spears," which look beauti- 
ful and silvery in the summer sunshine as the wind waves 
gently over the field. The spears are prolongations of the 
awn or bristle, which all grasses bear at the point of their 
calyx. It is sad to think that barley, that good gift of 
heaven, should sometimes be turned to such an evil use 
by men's self-indulgence. 

Oats bear their blossoms not in ears, but in loose, 
graceful waving heads, the florets in pairs. 

Rye grows in cold, poor lands unfit for wheat. These 
four are sometimes called Cerealia, after Ceres, whom the 
heathens used to worship as the goddess of wheat 

Rice is a kind of grass which grows in the very hottest 
and wettest places it can find, chiefly in India and Carolina. 
It is sown under water, and trodden into the earth by 
asses or oxen. The blossom is a good deal like oats. It 
is the chief food of the natives of India, who can live 
upon such a small quantity that to the people of colder 
climates would be starvation. 

These are the grasses whose grains are used by man 
for food. Then follow the multitudes, the leaves of which 
are eaten by animals. I am afraid it would be in vain 
to begin describing them, there are so many ; but if you 
will only pay a little attention to them you will see how 
endless is their beauty and variety. There is the quiver, 
or quaking grass, with its delicate purple brown pendant 
tufts shaking in the wind on their slightest of all stems ; 
the taU. oat grass in the woods ; the long ray grass, with 
which little girls sometimes practice a very siUy kind of 
fortune-telling, which they had better leave off as soon as 
possible ; the brome grass, with tufted scaly heads, in the 
upland hayfields ; the cotton grass in bogs, with one stiff 
straight stem, and large tufts of silky cotton enveloping 



260 THE HERB OF THE FIELD OHAP. 

the seed, waving wMte and shining in the marsh. It is 
said that it is used in Sweden to stuff pillows. I have 
seen a chimney-piece ornamented very prettily with a 
collection of different kinds of grasses, — tufts, feathers, 
plumes, ears, and spikes, an infinite variety, all hrown 
and dry, but preserving their form and beauty. 

The hay-field — I could stop there as long as in the 
harvest field ; the sweet grass, the long ridges, the cocks, 
the busy sunny haymakers, the horses munching away so 
happily while the waggon is piled, the hay home — that 
is a time of times indeed ! 

But we must make haste, for this has been a long 
chapter, and speak of the great grass which is valued for 
its juice. The sugar-cane is a grass of twenty feet high, 
and the sugar is made from the juice at its joint& It is 
just as good sugar that you may suck out of the joints 
of almost any kind of English grass, only there is not so 
much of it. The bamboo or cane is another grass, with 
a much harder stem, sometimes fifty feet high, and pro- 
portionably thick, the leaves of huge size, and the whole 
plant of infinite use to the natives of tropical countries. 

It is only in the tropics that grasses grow to such a 
size. In Brazil the hay is seven or eight feet high, and 
the huge reeds and canes are as great forests to men as 
our wheat fields are to babies ; but grasses, small or large, 
are to be found in all parts of the world, excepting in the 
extremes of cold and of drought The species in the 
southern temperate zone are much fewer than those in 
the northern, and very unlike them. The most noted of 
these far southern grasses is the tussock grass, which almost 
entirely covers Terra-de-Fuego and the Falkland Isles, 
and is said to be like little palm trees about four feet 
high. 



XLIII GRASSES 261 

Of all the lands where grass grows there is, however, 
not one where it prospers so well or is so fresh and green 
as in England. Our climate is just moist enough for it, 
our sun fosters it and makes it sweet and strong, and the 
dew and rain so freshen it that it is seldom withered and 
dried up, like that "whereof the mower filleth not his 
hand, nor he that bindeth up the sheaves his bosom." 
And thus England is said by all who have seen her to 
be the greenest of all lands. May the souls of her children 
only prosper equally in the dew of heavenly grace, since 
well do they know that of their earthly part it has been 
said, " All flesh is grass, and aU the goodliness thereof as 
a flower of the field." " The grass withereth, the flower 
fadeth, because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it 
Surely the people is grasa" 

Some few grasses do not keep their stamens and pistils 
in the same blossom, and one of these is the beautiful 
maize, or Indian com. Many children like to grow it in 
their gaidens as a curiosity, so perhaps you may be able 
to examine it The stamens, you see, grow in a spike of 
blossom much like that of other grasses ; the fertile 
flowers are out of sight, closely folded up in those long 
swelling sheaths of leaves that branch out on the sides of 
the stem, and from which hangs out a tassel or plume, or 
whatever you please to call it, of whitish green hairs or 
strings. This is the wonderful arrangement for allowing 
the pollen to reach the germs, which otherwise it could 
never do, enclosed as they are in their double rolls of 
lea£ If you pull to pieces one of these sheaths you will 
find the soft, fleshy, green receptacle covered with odd 
little flowers, from each of which depends one of these 
long hairs, a sort of mermaid's wig. As autumn comes 
on the germs harden into large round grains, either red 



262 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. XLIII 

• 

or yellow — every one, that is to say, whose streamer has 
properly conducted its poUen, for on some cobs, especially 
near the bottom, we sometimes find that some have fedled 
and died away. A perfect cob is a beautiful thing, 
with the long lines of rich amber-coloured grains close 
together, and as regular as lines of beads, and the wbole 
plant is very handsome. Some kinds are of very quick 
growth. In our own garden we had a giant sort^ one leaf 
of which grew nine inches in one day; the plant was at 
least eight feet high, and the cobs, which had red grains, 
were very long and handsome. It is an American plant, and 
was found cultivated in Peru when it was first discovered ; 
it served the inhabitants instead of wheat, and was so 
highly honoured by them that they had in the treasures 
of the Temple of the Sun a figure of it, with the leaves 
and beard of silver and the grains of gold. The Spaniards 
brought the maize home, and it is much grown all over 
the southern parts of the continent, where they are pleased 
to call it Turkish wheat Here, in England, it is not used 
sufl&ciently to cause it be cultivated in great quantities. 
The bread made from it is not as good as wheaten bread, 
and the chief use of it is to feed turkeys on the grains 
or the meal, and horses are sometimes fed on the leaves. 
The English horses in the Peninsular War learnt to know 
it well. 

In America it is also extensively grown, and the har- 
vest of large cobs in their leafy sheaths is said to be 
exceedingly rich-looking and beautiful The green cobs 
in their unripe state are there considered as a great dainty, 
either raw or boiled, and both man and beast live much 
upon the maize flour. Picking the grains out of the cobs 
is a grand employment in the winter, especially for the 
women and children. 



CHAPTER XLIV 
CLASS III 

PL0WBRLE8S PLAIN FUNGUSES 

The next class is of those which have no seed leaves, no 
visible flowers — ferns, mosses, horse-tails, funguses, and 
sea-weeds. Of ferns and mosses we spoke in October as 
unseen blossoms. 

Our Chapters have brought us back to the unseen 
blossoms again, for the third, the last class, consists 
entirely of these, and includes those of which I spoke to 
you in the autumn months — ^namely, the ferns, mosses, 
and lichens, with three other races which I did not then 
mention — the horse-tails, mushrooms, and sea-weeds. 

The horse-tails or Dutch rushes are spoken of by some 
books as a sort of fern, and in some respects they do 
resemble them. I think you can hardly fail to know 
them by sight, for in poor ground they are a very trouble- 
some weed. They have one hollow light green stem, in 
sheaths, one within the other, each joint marked by a 
black band, and bearing no leaves but whorls of straight 
branches, spreading out round it like the spokes of a wheel, 
and often branched again. The edges of the sheaths are 
deeply cut and bordered very prettily with black. The 



264 THE HERB OP ITSE FIELD OHAP. 

stem is excessively liarsh, like that of the sedges, and for 
the same reason — it is full of silex or flint, which, with a 
powerful magnifier, may actually be seen in fine grains, 
and it is so rough as to be sometimes used as a delicate 
file. The plant looks a little like a child's first attempt 
at drawing a fir tree ; indeed I have known a person who 
had never seen the horse-tail coming on a quantity of it 
suddenly and at first taking it for a plantation of young 
larches. 

This is when it is in its wintry state, and the tree-like 
stem answers to the frond of the fern. The part which 
answers to blossom appears early in the year. It is a 
curious-looking thing, growing about two inches above 
ground, and perhaps it may have puzzled you : it is more 
the shape of a nine-pin than of anything else that I know 
— a nine-pin with a head I mean, an oblong, egg-shaped 
head growing on a straight stalk, and of a very pale buff 
colour, almost white. On this head spring up dark brown 
shields or scales, something like those of the shield-fem, 
standing up like very small umbrellas, and containing 
beneath them an immense quantity of fine light-coloured 
dust. Botanists puzzled themselves for a long time about 
this dust, whether it was seed or pollen, but at last, when 
looking at it with a very strong glass as it lay on a sheet 
of white paper, it was found that some of the particles 
had minute threads proceeding from them, and that with 
these they had a sort of motion like that of a spider on 
its eight legs. This was thought to be like those move- 
ments by which some seeds are known to impel themselves 
towards places fit for their growth, so it was supposed 
that these were the seed-grains and the rest of the dust 
was instead of pollen. 

As to the fungus race, they are more mysterious still. 



XLIV FLOWERLESS PLAIN FUNGUSES 265 

and more unlike other plants. They seem to begin from 
almost nothing, even the larger sorts are at first only 
visible in a thin layer of something like a cobweb, which 
when something happens to favour its growth throws up 
little humps which gradually grow larger and longer, and 
gain a sort of stalk ; then, if cut in two, lengthways, there 
appears a hollow place, and within this a cap is formed, 
supported on a stem ; the cap and stem grow on and 
become more solid and fleshy, while the outer case grows 
thinner and weaker, till at last they break through it 
and show themselves to the world a sort of round fleshy 
table with one leg, the under side consistii^ of a great 
number of rays or ribs, which botanists call gills, and 
believe to contain purses of seeds, though these have 
never been seen, and some doubt whether there are any. 

The morel and truffle are the only English plants of 
this tribe that it is here thought safe to use for food 
besides the mushroom, which affords an excellent example 
of the mode of growth. You all know the pretty white 
head, and the bright pink gills underneath that one looks 
for so anxiously to see whether it is a real mushroom or 
not, and when it is in its prime you may see the remains 
of its old case hanging down like a fringe round the edge 
of a parasol, and ipaking a sort of ornamental band round 
the stem ; or, when it has not yet broken through the 
case, do we not know it well as a button ? 

Who can live near upland meadows and not like 
mushrooming ? The baskets we prepare, full of hope and 
glee, and then the walk on the fresh autumn day, the green 
short grass, and then the merry outcries, "Oh, there's 
one ! I see such a beauty ! " and the race to get to it end- 
ing often in " Oh dear ! it is nothing but a bit of chalk !" 
" Well, I am sure I see a whole lot there ; I am sure they 



266 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

are muslirooms tliis time, for they are in a ring ! " An- 
other race, and such an outcry from the first to come up, 
" Puflfe, puflfe ! only pufis after all ! " But at last the real 
ring is spied out, and mushrooms free from doubt or 
blame are found, white above, pink below, delicious in 
scent — some old and brown, some little buttons, but all 
worth gathering and carrying home, perhaps to be sorted 
and sold, perhaps to be offered as a great present to the 
elder people's dinner. Under a hedge an enormous 
mushroom may now and then be found, which, though 
pink, white, and fragrant, some people caU a horse mush- 
room and reject, but I don t believe there is any poison 
in it, and if it is not as delicate as the smaller kinds, it is 
quite fit to be used for catsup. Mushrooms grow, as we 
have said, in dark green rings on the grass ; I believe 
this is because they render the soil richer and therefore 
the grass grows greener among their roots, if roots they 
may be called, but it was a pretty old notion that these 
rings were made by fairies dancing in circles, and that he 
who went to sleep within one would see the wonders of 
fairyland. 

It is not only the true mushroom that forms fairy 
rings, so also do several kinds of fungus, or, according 
to their English name, toadstools. I must say toads seem 
to be better accommodated with furniture than any other 
animal, to judge by the beautiful cushions their stools 
sometimes wear. Here is one covered with rich shining 
crimson satin — another with crimson velvet, with em- 
bossed white spots — another of the most brilliant orange 
— another with deep purple — ^another a beautiful lilac, 
with white lacework over it like a lady's ball-dress. And 
yet you would most likely call them nasty poison toad- 
stools, and kick them over ! 



XLIV FLOWERLESS PLAIN FUNGUSES 267 

That many kinds are poisonous to man is quite true, 
and therefore people should be warned against them ; but 
it is not necessary that everything should be of positive 
use to us to be admired, and I do not think we have a 
right to call any of the works of the Creator nasty. I 
am sure we should not if we once looked well into them. 

I believe the wholesomeness of many kinds of fungus 
depends on the soil in which they grow and the climate 
of their country, so that many sorts which we avoid are 
eaten in Italy, Germany, and Eussia ; not that I would 
by any means advise you to try any experiments upon 
them. 

The Httle yeUowish toadstool that grows in fairy rings, 
in such numbers that it looks as if it might be a crowd 
of fairies, has a French name — Chanterelle, which we may 
call it by if we wish to distinguish it The ovate toad- 
stool is often to be seen, in shape much like an umbrella, 
pale brown above and darker below, verging on purple. 
The great oyster toadstool is to be found in damp woods, 
growing on stumps of old trees, quite white, without a 
stem, and, unlike others of its tribe, formed like a cup 
or vase, the gills outside, and what is usually the cap, 
concave (or hollow) instead of convex, often in most 
graceful forma There is, too, the velvetnstalked toadstool, 
red above and brown below, also a parasite on trees. 
The verdigris and the orange toadstool you may likewise 
find. AH these with gills on the under side belong to 
the genus called in Latin, Agaricus ; in EngHsh, mush- 
room, or toadstooL The Fly Agaric is very beautiful, it 
grows in plantations in autumn, and looks like a round 
crimson satin cushion stuck with white-headed pins. It 
is snowy white below. The varieties of these fungi are 
wonderful I have counted more than twenty in a short 



268 THE H£RB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

antnmn walk. They all flourish chiefly in antamn, and 
delight in damp, and what we should call nnwhole- 
someness. 

Another genus has no Rnglish name, though one 
species at least is common in England, the Boletus I 
mean, a red shining fongusy growing on old trees in autonin, 
very glossy and polished ahove and henealh of a spongy 
consistence and dull greenish yellow colour, full of little 
pores or holes, which are supposed to answer the same 
purpoee'as the gilla 

The morel reyerses the mushroom ; it has a stem and 
round cap, but the under side is the smooth part^ the 
upper is covered with network. One sort of the morel is 
good to eat 

The puff-hall shows nothing outside but a hard white 
case gathered together at the bottom. In its younger state 
the inside is mealy, not unlike mustard, as spread on a 
poultice, both in substance and colour, but when ripe the 
white skin splits and lets loose an immense quantity of 
the finest brown dust, supposed to be seed, though how 
formed no one knowa Puff'-balls are of every size, from 
a marble upwards ; I have seen them larger than a 
cricket-ball, and it is said that they grow as big as a 
man's head. Every one knows the funny things, and 
how many have been angry with them for pretending to 
look like mushrooms, and yet they are a very good sign, 
for wherever they grow mushrooms are almost certain 
likewise to be found. Many boys have fired off their 
dust at each other, and they are sometimes dried and 
burnt before a beehive, as their smoke will put the bees 
to sleep without killing them. There is one eatable sort 
of pufi^ the truffle, which grows under ground, and is a 
brown unsightly thing, not by any means like the white 



XLIV FLOWERLESS PLAIN FUNGUSES 269 

ball on our down& It is found and gathered in a curious 
way, by training dogs and sometimes pigs to smell it out, 
and then digging for it It is very rare, and is generally 
sent to London to fetch a high price for great people's 
grand dinners. The only truffles I ever saw were brought 
to the door many years ago by a man who had his little 
clever truffle-hunting dog with him, quite as much of a 
sight as the strange delicacies he found. 

In the dry ditches and hedge sides you may find in 
autumn and winter a jewel of the wayside, perched upon 
some dry withered old stick. It is an exquisite scarlet 
cup, of such a colour as no paint can ever equal, soft, 
bright and glowing — ^well suiting its name of fairy batL 
Where could Queen Mab find a more beautiful cup to 
hold her dewdrop bath ? They grew on little bits of 
broken stick, and serve our village children instead of 
nosegays in the winter. It is a great prize to get a large 
one. Their Latin name is Pezitza. 

Other kinds of fungus are like jelly ; there is a yellow 
kind especially, growing on old railings, and named St 
Qundula's Lamp, after a German lady who used to visit 
the poor and sick in the early dawn with a servant carry- 
ing a lamp to light her on her way. The multitudes of 
fungus are indeed beyond reckoning, they meet us every- 
where ; wherever there is decay or injury they grow up ; 
dry rot which destroys timber is believed to be a fungus, 
so is smut in wheat, and some people think the same of 
the potato blight Funguses grow in every unexpected 
place ; white furry forests of them, by name mildew, start 
up on preserves and dismay the housekeeper. Blue 
mould makes woods for the mites to range in on an old 
cheese, and grows up feeding on the blacking of old shoea 
Anything will make a soil for these smallest of vegetables 



270 THE HERB OP THE FIELD OHAP. XLIV 

— ^ink, jam, leather, paper, wood, they want nothing but 
damp to set them growing, and where or what they spring 
from is beyond the guess of any wise man who ever yet lived, 
unless he has the true wisdom to turn all his knowledge 
into what each little child starts from, the beginning and 
the end of all learning, that God made them all, and His 
ways are past finding out. 



CHAPTER XLV 

SBA-WEEDS 

One tribe more remains, the sea-weeds, as strange and 
untraceable as the other unseen blossoms. Some seem to 
have stems and leaves — ^fronds, as they are called — and 
seed -producing organs, with shields or purses, but these 
are only the more perfect kinds ; others are all jelly or 
moist leafiness and fibre, and produce other plants from 
any part Of those that do produce seed the greater 
number have two different kinds of parts for the pur- 
pose, but both these form seed, so that they cannot answer 
to the stamens and pistils of other plants. 

Their colours are either green, olive, or red, in every 
kind of shade. The green kinds generally grow in shallow 
water, the olive in somewhat deeper, the red in the deepest 
of all ; but this is only a general rule, and there are many 
exceptions. 

Some grow rooted at the bottom of the sea, or on 
stones, rocks, or even shells, others float about on the 
water. I have been so little by the sea-side that I have 
very little acquaintance with these wonders, and of those 
that I remember by sight I did not know the proper 
names, for it was before I learnt any botany. There was 
what we used to call the lion's tail, but which is rightly 



272 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

tlie sea-tangle or wand, a hard stem, as large round as a 
walking-stick, ending in a buncli of long broad streamers 
or ribbons, all dark brown, and somewhat slimy to the 
touch, and very salt in smell, aye, and making our fingers 
so, but little we recked of that when we danced about 
dragging them behind us on the shingly beach. Those 
are certainly rooted, and now and then when brought 
ashore by the tide bring a stone with them, as well as a 
number of little limpet shells, whose inhabitants live on. 
them. The fructification is hard to find ; it is in little 
clouds of purses in the body of the streamers. In Scot- 
land these used to be eaten, and where wood was scarce 
knife handles, and other small matters, have been made 
of the stem. Some people hang up a lion's tail in their 
houses because damp in the air makes it stretch, so that 
it serves to show them what the weather is likely to be. 

Thinking about the lion's tails I played with before I 
was seven years old has brought back the recollection of 
another branched pretty sort, which we used to find 
bordering high-water-mark, generally rather dry and old. 
This had swellings along it, from which it is called knotted 
fucus. They were in fact hollow places filled with air, 
the use of them being to make it float on the water, and 
it is the same again with another sort, looking like a 
string of brown gooseberries. These the little boy who 
was my sea-side playfellow used to crack, as inland 
children do poppies, and you may hear them snap under 
the foot as you tread on them. If you want a name for 
it you may call it swine-tangle, the people of Gothland 
call it so because they give it to their pigs when boiled 
and mixed with flour. The blossom is at the end of the 
fronds. 

These, and many more which I do not remember, used 



XLV 



SEA-WEEDS 273 



to be our delight in a little rocky hollow of the beach, 
covered with gray and red shingly stones, famous for 
ducks and drakes. It was no place for shells, except 
limpets and the solid part of the cuttlefish, but there 
were the fresh curling breaking waves, and such a dis- 
tance of the blue bright sea. We were very happy 
there. 

Some years after this I had a little more friendship 
with sea-weeds, in certain boating days, when we, merry 
children, used to stretch out our hands to catch them as 
they floated by and call them by droll names of our own. 
Our favourite was what we called the Mermaid's Staylace 
— a long round string-like whipcord, some straight, some 
spirally twisted, or as we used to say, these latter were 
the old laces that the mermaid had used and thrown 
away. 

Once I remember our trying to dress an old stump of 
a wooden doll in sea-weeds, and calling her a mermaid, but 
it was a slippery unsuccessful business, and I don't think 
the ancient blue-eyed lady could have been too comfortable. 
These sea-weeds are nothing but a hollow stem, jointed 
within, and filled with air — ^nothing more is visible ; they 
grow to be thirty or forty feet long, and sometimes in 
shallow places are a hindrance to boats. We used to gaze 
down when the sun shone into the clear water of the little 
bays, and look at the crabs crawling sideways about among 
these strange weeds and the stones. I have since learnt 
that sea-laces is their real name, and that in Shetland 
they are called Luckie Minnie's lines. They may well 
be called so, for when dried and twisted they are tough 
enough to serve^ for fishing-lines. Learned books say 
they are formed by one long thread twisted in a spiral, so 
aft to make a tube of this immense lengtL It is covered 

T 



274 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

with hairy fibres, the seeds in cases growing among them 
over the whole surface of the frond. 

Sea-thongs, like the laces, only flat and not round, 
float about with theuL The thongs, however, grow out of 
little green round saucers, which in some places maj be 
seen covering the rocks like green buttons. The sauoeis 
live two years, the thongs only one. The thongs are in 
£ftct the blossoms, and bear the seed within them, the 
round spots with which they are covered being the -pores 
through which the seeds come out 

Do you recollect how Columbus was hindered hy the 
multitudes that were matted together in the AjUti^^ 
and how the sailors were firi^tened, and fimcied they 
had come to the edge of the world, which they thou^^ 
like a great plate, and that they should stick f^^ and 
never come home again ? It is the same still, at obtain 
seasons, in that part of the Atlantic ; such quantitieB of 
sea-weed floats about that vessels are in danger of gettb^ 
entangled, and the sui&ce of the ocean looks Hke a greai 
luaishy meadow as ^ as the eye can reach. It is a kfrMJ 
often found on our coasts, with leaf-like fronds, and i^ 
seeds in round berries, from which it is sconetinies called 
sea grape:s; but it is better known as gulf-weed. It is om^ 
of the green kinds. 

Sea-weeds are eaten by the cattle of the Hebfsie^ 
which have little grass to eat, and they go down to knk 
for them at low water, keeping the time of the tide ^ 
punctuaUy as their masters could. 

The a;^Ms of burnt sea-weed are called Kelp^ ami an^ 
useful in the making of both soap and ^jass^ on accoonc 
of the quantitr of the suhstance caLIed alkali^ or poca^ 
that ther contain. 

LakTer^ a gie«ai j^llut weed, focnd on poeks in ContwiTI 



XLV 



SEA-WEEDS 275 



and Devonsliire, is pickled, and makes a very good relish 
to meat when eaten very hot Some kinds are full of 
gluey matter ; one growing in Ireland is called Carigeen 
moss, and is sometimes boiled down into jelly ; and that 
which is found on the coast of Java is the substance of 
which the swallows bmld the nests that the Chinese make 
into soup. 

There is a turkey -feather sea -weed, which any one 
near the shore should look for, and may perchance find, 
as it grows in shallow pools left by the tide in the hollows 
of rocks. I have never seen it, but my books say no one 
can mistake it ; it is shaped like a fan, or like the short 
broad feathers of a turkey, and is covered with minute 
hair-like fibres, which catch the light, so that the frond 
shines with rainbow colours, and deserves its Latin name 
of the peacock. It grows in plenty in the Mediterranean, 
and is also found on our southern English coasts. Pray 
search for it. 

The oyster green is a lai^e pale-green frond, not imlike 
a bit of some torn leaf It is often used to cover oysters, 
which is the reason it is so called. 

We now come to the red kinds, those beautifully 
delicate things that we see polished through the shallow 
water, and that look very well even when spread out on 
paper. They have no English names, unfortunately, for 
people have been very apt to overlook them, like the 
fisherman who, when a botanist spread out a little branched 
specimen of clear rosy-red which he had just found, said, 
" he did not think there could be anything so bonnie to 
be got in the bay." 

How bonnie they are you must learn by your own 
eyes, and perhaps you may some day go further into their 
history. I can tell you very little about them, but I 



276 THE HERB OF THE FIELD CHAP. 

must not pass over the corallines, whicli stand on the 
horders of animal, vegetahle, and mineral, something 
between the three. 

You have heard of the coral worm that extracts fix>m 
the sea-water the lime of which they bmld those wondrous 
stony dwellings which may in time become rocks and 
islands. The question is scarcely settled whether these 
red, hard, branching sea-weeds, the corallines, are v^e- 
tables or the houses of animals. They are fall of lime, 
quite stiff and hard, and if held to a candle will give 
a beautiful white light. One white coralline, which is 
extremely hard, is used as part of the mortar of .the 
Cathedral of lona, which is so hard that it is easier to 
break the stones than to displace them. Another builder 
uses it — a tiny shell-fish, whose own house is too small for 
him, as he has a beautiful orange Mngework projecting 
beyond his shelL To guard this soft unprotected part 
the little creature builds himself a grotto of bits of stone, 
and of almost equally hard coralline, all bound together 
with silk of his own spinning, and softly lined with the 
same. There's a wonder of the deep for you ! 

Conferva is the name of the slimy green hairy weed 
found on stones and rocks within high -water mark, 
spreading out when the water comes to it, and drying 
up and becoming like a green crust when left to itself 
It is another of those which may either be plant or 
animaL 

Powerful microscopes discover in it what opens to us 
another field of our own ignorance. They find that 
inside the thin skin that covers it there are an untold host 
of little grains, or atoms, each with a tiny beak, and that 
these are like live things dancing, whirling round each 
other, reeling, twirling backwards and forwards, and round 



XLV SEA-WEEDS 277 

and round, not regularly, but as if each liad a movement 
at its own wilL 

Sometimes they multiply, come thicker together, divide 
into little parties, and form a new membrane or outside 
case; and this motion only takes place at sunrise. At 
other times of the day they are stilL What are they ? 
Are they analagous to seed ? Is the sea-weed a plant, or 
is it a case of living beings ? Will man ever be able to 
answer? 

These strange things are not found only in the sea ; 
there are many sorts to be found in fresh water, especially 
stagnant pools, which they line with green. You have 
seen some of them hundreds of times, and know their 
disagreeable green shiny look, but those who have 
examined them tell us of their beauty. One sort grows 
on stones and is very like toad's-spawn. Another kind, 
the oscillatori^^ long green hairy stuff that oscillates with 
the movement of the stream, is thought really to have 
a motion of its own, to be first cousin, if no nearer, to 
animals, and to be able at certain times of the year to 
move from place to place. 

Why ? And here again we stop short It is our last 
of these never-to-be-answered inquiries that I have led 
you to, for this is the end of the Chapters on Flowers, 
and I am sorry for it, my little readers, for they have 
been a great pleasure to me. They have taught me much 
that was new, and made me look deeper into books to 
clear my notions and certify what I knew before; they 
have set me watching, more than I did before, the lovely 
things in nature ; they have turned my mind back to 
many precious recollections of happy hours and friends of 
old days ; and I hope that thinking about all these has 
helped me, as I trust it may help some of you, to think 



278 THE HERB OP THE FIELD OHAP. XXV 

more about the Power and Goodness that made the "field 

joyful, and all that is in it ; planted trees for a dwelling 

for the birds of the air, and prepared grass for the cattle, 

green herb for the service of man, wine that maketh 

glad the heart of man, and bread to strengthen man's 

heart" 

All study of nature must turn to His honour and 

glory, if only used aright Perhaps some day you will 

learn fax more than I can teach you, some, it may be from 

books, but all can and may, from a humble, obedient^ 

adoring heart and eye, that turns from God's works to 

Gk>d Himself. That love is true wisdom, and the flowers 

of the field are precious to us, as helping us to reach up 

to it 

*' What, though I trace each herb and flower 
That drinks the morning's dew, 
Did I not own Jehovah's Power, 
How vain were all I knew ! " 



COMMON ENGLISH PLANTS i 

CLASS L— EXOGENS. 
Orowerafrom within 

Sub-class L Eeceftacle Flowers 
Seed lea/ves, parts in fives and fours 

Stamens, Pistil, and Corolla springing from under the germ, 
from the receptacle. 

CkowrooT Tribe — 

All with many sepals, many stamens, and from five to ten 
petals — very small calyx. 
Buttercup, 17. 
Goldylocks, 17. 
Water Crowfoot, 17. 
Celandine, 18. 

Kingcup, or Marsh Marigold, 18. 
Anemone or Windflower, 14. 
Meadow Rue. 
Traveller's Joy, or Old Man's Beard. 

The Water Lily Tribe— 

Calyx lasting — fruit forming are more divided — large flat 
leaves floating on the water. 
White Water Lily, 98. 
Yellow Water Lily, 98. 

The Poppy Tribe — 
The sepals falling off as the flower opens — one large carpel 

1 This is not an index but a list of common plants, with references to 
such as are described in the text. 



280 THE HERB OF THE FIELD 

taming to an am fall of seeds, or sometimes a long carved 
horn. 

Poppy, 99. 

Pheasant's Eye. 

Greater Celandine. 

Homed Poppy, 99. 

Fumitory Tbibs — 

Carioasly twisted petals, climbing plants, leaves much 
divided. 

Bed Famitoiy, 100. 
Yellow Famitory, 101. 

Babbebry Tbibs — 

Shrabs — clastered blossoms leaving a long narrow berry. 
Barberry. 

The Cross Tbibe— 

Four petals with long daws, foar long and two short stamens. 
All the plants good for food. Two groaps with seed-vessels 
in pouches, mostly white, yellow, or purple. 

The Pouched Group — 

Penny Cress. 
Shepherd's Purse, 109. 
Pepperwort. 
Sea Rocket, 109. 

The Podded Groups 

Tower Mustard, 109. 

Winter Cress, 109. 

Yellow Rocket, 109. 

Hedge Mustard, or Jack-by-the-hedge, 109. 

Wall-flower, 105. 

Cherlock, 109. 

Mignonette Tribe — 

Shrubby plants — long spikes of blossom, many parted calyx, 
torn petals, no styles. 
Dyer's Weed, 110. 
Wild Mignonette, 110. 



COMMON ENGLISH PLANTS 281 

CisTUs Tkibe — 

Woody stems, generally trailing — five very loosely fastened 
petals, many stamens, five sepals. 

Yellow Rock Rose. 

White Rock Rose. 

Violet Tkibe — 

Small plants with five petals, two twisted into a spur, five 
stamens joined together over the five sepals, one of which has 
a stigma forming a point. 

Sweet Violet, 24. 

Dog Violet, 25. 

Snake Violet. 

Marsh Violet. 

Cream Coloured Violet, 26. 

Pansy, 26. 

Sundew Tribe — 

Small plants, white blossoms only opening at sunrise, leaves 
covered with red hairs exuding gum, growing in bogs. 
Round-leaved Sundew, 138. 
Narrow-leaved Sundew, 138. 

Parnassus Tribe— 

Five petals, five sepals, five nectaries edged with hairs bearing 
globes. 

Grass of Parnassus, 138. 

Milkwort Tribe- 
Two of the sepals feathered, eight stamens, petals butterfly 
like. 

Milkwort, 101. 

Pink Tribe — 

Ten stamens, five pistils with curly stigmas, five petals, 
each deeply cleft in the centre, and with a long claw, deep 
calyx. Simple linear leaves. 

Cheddar Pink. 

Deptford Pink, 101. 



282 



THE HERB OF THE FIELD 



Bladder Catchfl)'. 

Soapwort. 

Ragged Robin. 

Red Robin, or Red Campion. 

White Robin, or Campion. 

Corn-cockle. 

Spurrey. 

Stitchwort. 

Starwort. 

duckweed. 

Sandwort. 



102. 



St. John's Wort Tribe — 

Five sepals, five petals, one pistil becoming a berry, numerous 
stamens, united into several tufts, yellow. 
Park Leaves. 
Tutsan. 



Fair 

Upright 

Perforated 

Marsh 

Creeping 



St. John's Wort, 111. 



Mallow Tribe — 

Five deeply cleft petals, twisting in bud, stamens united in a 
column round the style — fruit flat, leaves fan-like, very whole- 
some. 

Common Mallow, 113. 

Musk Mallow, 114. 

Dwarf Mallow, 114. 

Marsh Mallow, 114. 



Flax Tribe— 

Five thin petals twisted in bud, five sepals, five stamens, five 
stigmas — thin stems, linear leaves. 
Flax, 126. 

Small White Flax, 126. 
All Seed, 126. 



COKMON ENOLISH PLANTS 283 

Maple Tbibe — 

Trees, with palmate leaves, small blossoms, and fruit with 
lobes like wings. 

Maple, 130. 

Sycamore, 130. 

The Cbane's-bill Tbibe— 

Five petals with long claws, five pistils, ten stamens. Seeds 
forming a long beak, then spreading into cottony wings, leaves 
round and jagged. 

Blue 

Bloody 

Dore's-foot ^ crane's-biU, 124, 125. 
Dusky ' ' 

Meadow 

Herb Robert 

Stork's-biU. 

WOOD-SOBBEL TbIBE — 

Five sepals, five petals twisting in bud, five styles, trefoil 
leaves, acid flavour. 
Wood-sorrel, 127. 

Sub-class II 

Stamens growing on the Calyx 

Spindle Tbee Tbibe— 

Four small petals, four sepals, four stamens. Fruit four cleft, 
with a berry in each cleft — ^bushes. 
Skewer-wood, 127. 
Buckthorn. 

BUTTEEI^LY FlOWEBS, OB PbA TbIBB — 

Furze, 41. 
Dwarf Furze, 42. 
Broom, 41. 
Needle Broom, 41. 
Dyer's Green Weed. 
Rest Harrow. 
Medick. 



284 THE HERB OF THE FIELD 

Yellow Melilot, 43. 
Purple Clover, 43. 
White Clover, 43. 
Shamrock, 43. 
Hare's-foot Trefoil, 43. 
Hop Trefoil, 43. 
Strawberry-headed Trefoil, 48. 
Rough Trefoil, 43. 
BirdWoot Trefoil, 42. 
Lady's Finger, 42. 
Milk Vetch. 
Purple Vetch, 42. 
Bird's-foot, 42. 
Saint-foin, 43. 
Everlasting Pea. 
Crimson Vetchling, 42. 
Wood Vetchling. 
Yellow Vetchling, 42. 
Tare, 42. 

Ross Obdeb 

All five petals, many stamens and carpels. Fruit, a kernel 
in a juicy pulp. 

Wild Cherry, 31. 
Bullace. 
Blackthorn, 32. 

Meadow-sweet Tbibe — 

Hard dry seed-vessels opening at the sides. 
Meadow-sweet, 136. 
Dropwort, 136. 

AvENS Tbibe — 

Numerous carpels having a heavy ball of seed. 
Herb Bennet. 
Water Avens. 

CiNQUEFoiL Tbibe — 

Leaves in five leaflets. 
Silver Weed. 



COMMON ENGLISH PLANTS 285 

Marsh Cinquefoil. 

Barren Strawberry. 

Tormensil — ^A cinquefoil of four petals. 

Strawbebry Tribe — 

Seeds with a large fleshy receptacle. 
Wild Strawberry, 36. 
Blackberry, 35. 
Dewberry, 35. 
Wild Raspberry, 35. 

Agrimony Tribe — 
Two seeds in a hardened calyx. 

Burnet Tribe — 

No petals, stamens hanging like tassels. 
Burnet, 135. 
Lady's Mantle, 136. 

Rose Tribe — 

Calyx and receptacle swell into fruit. 
Sweet Brier, 33. 
Dog Rose, 32. 
Burnet Rose. (Many more wild sorts), 33. 

Apple Tribe — 

Seeds within a large pulpy case, calyx on the top. 
Crab, 31. 
Service Tree. 
Mountain Ash, 136. 
Hawthorn, 32. 

Enchanter's Nightshade Tribe — 

Two stamens. 
Enchanter's Nightshade, 145. 

The Willow Herb Tribe — 

Four petals cleft in the centre, eight stamens, four sepals, all 
seated on the top of a long four divided pod, the stigma of 



286 THE HERB OF THE FIELD 

which is four cleft, like a little inner flower ; pod splits into 
long feathery seeds — leaves opposite. 

Rose Bay, French Willow Herb, 148. 

Codlings and Cream, 143. 

Marsh ^ 

Garden V Willow Herb, 143. 

Wood J 



The Mabb*s-tail Teibb— 
Water plants with one stamen. 
Mare's-tail, 139. 

The Loose-strife Teibb — 

Tall spikes of irregular blossoms — from six to twelve stamens 
— hard dry capsules. 

Purple Loose-strife, 141. 

The Goued Tribe — 

Climbing plants — stamens and pistils divided — handsome 
leaves. 

White Bryony, 150. 

The Stonecrop Tribe — 

Stars of five pointed petals, ten stamens — ^fleshy stems and 
leaves — loving rocks and walls. 
Wall Pennywort, 138. 
House Leek, 138. 
Orpine, or Midsummer Men, 138. 
Yellow Stonecrop, 138. 
White Stonecrop, 138. 
Saxifrage — Mountain and bog plants very like stonecropSy 

except in the leaves and slenderer stems, 138. 
Yellow Saxifrage, 138. 
London Pride, 138. 
Golden Saxifrage — A tiny marsh plant with no petals, but 

very yellow anthers, 138. 

Umbelliferous Tribe — 
Small five petalled, six stamened, two carpelled — blossoms 



COMMON ENGLISH PLANTS 287 

always arranged in two regular whorls, with bracts hanging 
from them — ^leaves much divided. 

Shepherd's Needle, 155. 

Wild Carrot, 155. 

Wild Parsley, 155. 

Rig Nut, 156. 

Hemlock, 156. 

Water Dropwort, 155. 

Water Parsnip, 156. 

Wild Celery, 155. 

Fool's Parsley, 155. 

Fennel, 155. 

Alexanders, 156. 

Gout-weed, 156. 

Sanicle, 157. 

The Ivy Teibb — 

Ivy, 46. 

Musk plant, or Tuberous Moschatel — A small plant close 

to the ground, with pairs of three parted leaves, and 

round heads of tiny green flowers. 
Cornel tribe — Small bushes, single blossom, with dark 

berries. 
Wild Cornel, or Dog-wood, 157. 

Sub-class III 
Corolla of one petals toith the stamena growing upon it 

The Honeysuckle Tribe — 

Long tubes in clusters, with four notches above, and one 
separate division, five stamens, one pistil — berried, Mnt, 
climbing. 

Spring \ Honeysuckle, 158. 
Autumn J 

The Elder Tribe — 
Elder, 160. 
Guelder Rose, 161. 
Wayfaring Tree, 161. 



288 THE HERB OF THE FIELD 

The Madder Tribe — 

Four stamens, one pistil, corolla, four divided — two rotmd 
seeds, four leaves making a cross at each division of the stem, 
four-sided stem. 

Field Madder, 173. 

Crosswort, 172. 

X^.^^ \ Lady's-bed-straw, 173. 
White J 

Gliders, Cleavers, or Goose-grass, 173. 

Woodruff (with more than four leaves), 172. 

The Valerian Tribe — 

Large loose panicles of blossoms — ^four cleft, four stamens, 
long tube. 

Red Valerian, 172. 
Great Valerian, 172. 
Small Valerian, 172. 
Lamb's Lettuce, 172. 

The Teasel Tribe — 

Round heads of four cleft blossoms, each with a calyx, blow- 
ing in rings, one circle at a time. 
Teasel, 179. 
Small Teasel, 178. 
Large Scabious, 176. 
Small Scabious, 176. 
Blue, or Devil's-bit Scabious, 176. 

Compound Flowers — 

This is a very large family divided into several groups. 
Strap-shaped, with all the florets perfect. 

The Chicory Group — 

Goats-beard, or Go to Bed at Noon. 

Dandelion, 57. 

Ox-tongue — Flower like a dandelion, stem branched, and 

prickly leaf, very much like the tongue of an ox, the 

calyx very prettily folded. 
Sow-thistle — Dandelion -like, soft and juicy, its stem 



COMMON ENGLISH PLANTS 289 

branched, an ox-tongue all but the prickles, of which 
it has only a few at the edge of the leaves, which have 
often a very pretty pink mid rib. 

Lettuce — Very small dandelion flowers, and leaves that 
every one knows. 

Hawkweed — Dandelion-like, but of a pretty pale sulphur 
colour, and the ^tem quite dry, without the succulent 
juice of the others. The stems are simple, it grows in 
dry places, and the " clocks " are particularly beautiful, 
each seed bearing such a perfect star. These hawk names 
are said to be given because hawks were supposed to feed 
their young ones on these to make their eyes bright. 

Lapsana — Tiny dandelions on tall stems. 

Wnd Succory — Like garden succory, with a pretty blue 
flower. 

Burdock, 57. 

Saw-wort — A purple flower like a thistle, but with fewer 
prickles, and those chiefly at the edges of the leaves — 
whence its name. 

Thistle, 56. 

Bur Marigold, or Goldilicks — ^A yellow flower with a some- 
what drooping head, and long lance-shaped leaves, grow- 
ing in marshy places. 

Mouse Ear — A tiny sulphur hawkweed, excellent for 
whooping cough. 

Th£ Daisy Group — 

Outer florets having pistils alone, inner florets perfect. 
Tansy — Yellow star-like flowers. 
Wormwood — Gray pale downy oft -divided leaves, light 

yellow flowers. 
Hemp Agrimony. 
Cudweed, 55. 
Flea-bane, 54. 
Groundsel, 54. 
Bagwort, 54. 
Golden Rod, 54. 

Sea Aster — ^A gray flower, like a Michaelmas daisy, growing 
in sea mud, 53. 

U 



290 THE HERB OF THE FIELD 

Daisy, 52. 

Ox-eye, 53. 

Com Chrysanthemimi, 53. 

Camomile, 54 

Yarrow, or Milfoil — Heads of white flowers, so small that 
at first sight it might almost be taken for an umbellate 
flower, now and then a little tinged with pink. It is 
the leaf that is its peculiar beauty, one long mid rib, 
feathered twice in two divisions of long pointed segments, 
each bearing almost a thousand little leaves in one, from 
which its name milfoil — 1000 leaves. 

TJie Knapweed Group — 

Outer florets empty. 
Knapweed, 58. 
Corn-flower, 58. 

The Bell Floweb Tribe — 

Drooping Bells, with five notches, five stamens, one pistil, 
five lobed calyx — numerous seeds. 
Giant BeU Flower, 46. 
Rampion, 46. 

Nettle-leaved Bell Flower, 46. 
Ivy-leaved Bell Flower, 46. 
Harebell, or Bluebell of Scotland, 46. 
Round-headed Rampion, 46. 
Sheep's Bit, 46. 

The Cranberry Tribe — 

Bells wi^h eight stamens — small bushes bearing berries — broad 
leaves. 

Whortle-berry, 181. 

Cranberry, 181. 

The Heath Tribe — 

Eight stamened, one pistilled bells, but hard dry fruit, and 
linear leaves in whorls. 

Common Heath, 47. 

Cross-leaved Heath, 48. 

Ling, 47. 



COMMON ENGLISH PLANTS 291 

The Holly Tribe — 
Holly, 80. 

The Olive Tribe— 

Four cleft corolla, two stamens, or wings — ^berry. 
Privet, 186. 
Ash, 186. 

The Periwinkle Tribe — 

Wheel-shaped corolla, five cleft brush-like stigma — ^trailing 
plants, small leaves in pairs. 
Greater Periwinkle, 187. 
Lesser Periwinkle, 187. 

Gentian Tribe — 

Deep corolla, five cleft, five stamens — ^leaves narrow. 
Marsh ^ 

Spring j- Gentian, 188. 
Autumn J 

Centaury — Pink stem, branched, 188. 
Yellow-wort — ^Yellow. 

The Buckbean Tribe — 

Five cleft corolla, curling over and fringed, five stamens^- 
weak plants. 

Fringed Lily, 189. 
Bogbean, 189. 

The Bindweed Tribe — 

Trailers — corolla undivided, but marked with five ribs. 
White ) 

Pink [ Bindweed, 190. 
Sea ) 

Greater ) j^^^^^^^ ^^^^ 
Lesser J 

The Borage Tribe — 

Five stamened, one pistilled, five cleft corolla, coarse rough 
leaves — blue flowers (generally). 
Borage, 192. 



292 THE HERB OF THE FIELD 

Viper's Bugloss, 193. 

Lungwort, or Jerusalem Cowslip, 193. 

White ^ 

Yellow I- Gromwell, 192. 

Purple J 

Alkanet, 193. 

Comfrey, 193. 

Bugloss, 192. 

Forget-me-not (marsh, large, heath), 24. 

Hounds-tongue, 193. 

The Nightshade Tribe— 

Poisonous berries succeeding five cleft blossoms, with anthers 
gathered round the pistil. 
Deadly Nightshade, 194. 
Henbane, 194. 

Bitter Sweet, or "Woody Nightshade, 195. 
Grarden Nightshade, 195. 

The Broom-rape Tribe — 

Broom-rape — A marvellous brown thing, that looks as if it 
never lived ; blossoms, leaves, root, and all, of one pale 
brown ; nothing flower -like about it but its yellow 
anthers, within their brown cave. The leaves are linear 
and brown, and the root is a most curious succession of 
scales. It fastens itself on the roots of broom and furze, 
and sucks their juices, instead of going direct to the 
earth itself, You may see its brown spikes on heaths 
and commons in June and July, and it is well worth 
examining. 

Toothwort. 

The Labiate Tribe — Two Groups — 

Seeds in a capsule, often mask -like flowers, closing their 
mouths. 

GROUP 1 
The Figwort Tribe— 

Figwort — A tall bushy plant, the stem hollow, and very 
square ; the blossoms dingy red, looking rather as if they 
had been eaten off by insects, 165. 



COMMON ENGLISH PLANTS 293 

Foxglove, 162. 

Bartsia — A small low reddish plant with dingy purple 

flowers, growing in dry rubbish. 
Yellow rattle — A yellow flower, on a swelling calyx, grow- 
ing in meadows, called rattle, because the seeds when 

ripe rattle in their vessel, 165. 
Yellow Cow- wheat — Much like the rattle, but it grows in 

woods, the calyx is not so swelling, the leaves are linear, 

and it has curiously pinnate bracts, the stems are black 

and wiry, 165. 
Eyebright — Is a little beauty, growing close to the ground 

in pastures ; the blossom white, marked with brown and 

yellow, prettily cut at the edge, 165. 
Snapdragon, 163. 
Toad Flax, 163. 
Eed-rattle — ^Two kinds, large and small, the latter grows 

close to the ground ; the former has a branching stem ; 

both have notched leaves, and large handsome pink 

blossoms. They grow in marshes, 165. 
Skull-cap — Large and Small, 163. 



GR0X7P2 

With four naked seedSf open Jhujers 

Clary, 164. 
Sage, 164. 

Mint (many kinds), 164. 
Maijoram, 164. 
Betony, 166. 
Germander, 166. 
Self-heal, 164. 
Motherwort, 164. 
"Weasel-snout, 166. 
Archangel, 164. 
Red Dead-nettle, 164. 
Wild Balm, 164. 
Catmint, 164. 
Basil, 164. 
Basil-thyme, 164. 



\ 



Speedwell, 168. 



294 THE HERB OF THE FIELD 

The Speedtoell Qrmp — 

Corolla gaping, four cleft, one large diyision, one small 
opposite to it ; two stamens, sometimes four, one pistO. 

Brook lime (blue, white), 167. 

Germander Speedwell, or Birds*-eye, 167. 

Ivy-leaved 

Banbanmbs 

Spring I 

Spiked ^ 

Figwort, 165. 

Purple betony, 166. 

Greater 'v 

Black \ Mnllein, 168. 

Moth J 

Gipsywort, 164. 

The Vbevain Tribe — 
Vervain, 169. 

The Butteewoet Teibe — 
Two stamens — small plants, 168. 
Common Butterwort, 168. 
Pale Butterwort, 168. 
Bladderwort, 168. 

The Peimrose Teibe — 

Long tube, five cleft corolla, five small stamens almost hid 
within it — small plant. 
Primrose, 19. 
Cowslip, 21. 
Ox lip, 21. 

The Pimpernel Tribe — 

Wheel flowers, five cleft, five stamens — small plants, feathered 
stamens. 

Scarlet ^ 

Blue \ Pimpernel, 182. 

Bog J 



COMMON ENGLISH PLANTS 295 

The Lysimachia Tribe — 
Wheel, five cleft, starry flowers, but stamens smooth. 
Money- wort, 182. 
Yellow Loose-strife, 182. 
Yellow Pimpernel, 182. 

The Thrift Tribe — 
Heads of flowers five cleft, five stamens, five pistils. 
Thrift, or Sea Pink. 

The Plaintain Tribe — 
Spikes like grasses, four stamens, one style. 
Enockheads. 
Common 

Hoary Y Plantain, 169. 

Stag's-hom 



} 



Sub-Order IV 
Flowers vntTunU corollas 

The Goosefoot Tribe — 

Green spikes, five stamens, two styles, broad leaves — herbs. 
** Good King Henry," 209. 
Numerous lesser species, 209. 

The Buckwheat Tribe — 

Calyx coloured pinky white, eight stamens, trailing spikes — 
leaves in pairs. 

Bistort. 

Buckwheat. 

Knot Grass. 

Water Pepper. 

Spotted ^ 

Water V Persicaria. 

Biting J 

The Dock Tribe — 

Sharp -tasting plants, with a red tinge, long leaves, six 
stamens, three styles (an exception to the rule of three never 
being found among Exogens), red scaly sepals. 



Spurge, 201. 



296 THE HERB OP THE FIELD 

Water-dock, 207. 

Sorrel, 208. 

And other species, 207. 

The Spurge Tribe — 

Full of milky juice, acrid and stainy ; stamens and pistils 
separate, green cups, stigmas crescent-shaped. 
Wood "^ 
Dwarf 
Sun 

Cypress '' 

Dog's Mercury (nearly related), 202. 
Box Tree, 202. 

The Nettle Tribe — 

Separate blossoms ; stringy stems. 
Nettle, 209-211. 
Roman Nettle, 208. 
Pellitory-of-the-wall, 211. 

The Elm Tribe — 

Trees — five stamened perfect flowers, 216. 

The Catkin Tribe — 

Stamens in catkins, pistils in tufts — trees. 
Willow (numerous sorts), 222. 
Dwarf Willow, 222. 
Withy, 222. 
Poplar, 226. 
Aspen, 226. 
Birch, 222. 
Sweet Gale. 
Alder. 
Beech, 203. 
Chestnut, 202. 
Hazel, 9. 
Hornbeam. 
Oak. 



COMMON ENGLISH PLANTS 



297 



CONE-BEABEBS — 

Scotch Fir, 91. 
Weymouth Pine, 91. 
Larch, 93. 

Yew Tbibe — 

Like the cone-bearers in foliage, but with berries. 
Yew, 205. 
Juniper, 205. 

CLASS IL— ENDOGENS 
Chrowingfrom the otUside. One bud, parts in threes 

The Feoqbit Tribe, 227. 

The Orchis Tribe — 

Curious twisted flowers growing on the germ ; one anther ; 
hollow place instead of stigma. 

Butterfly 

Purple 

Green-winged 

Marsh 

Narrow-leaved 

Pyramidal 

Sweet-scented 

Dwarf 

Meadow 

Man 

Bee, 233 

My, 233 

Spider 

Drone 

Ladies' Tresses, 232 

Tway-blade, 231. 

Bird's-nest Orchis, 231. 

White N 

Marsh I 

Green |" Helleborine, 233. 

Purple J 



' Orchis, 228, 229. 



298 the herb op the field 

The Ibis Teibb — 

Sword-like leaves ; three petals, large and overhanging, three 
short and upright, all on the top of the germ ; stigma like three 
other pistils shutting in the stamens. 

Iris or Flag, 235-238. 

Yellow Flag, 236. 

Stinking Iris, 236. 

The Ceocxts Teibb — 

Six petals, three stamens, one pistil, beautiful cleft stigma ; 
no stem, except an underground bulb. 
Purple, 6. 
Saffron, 6. 
Spring Crocus, 5. 
Autumn Crocus, 2. 

The Amaeyllis Teibe — 

Three petals, three sepals of the same colour, sheaths cover- 
ing the bud ; sometimes nectaries — ^bulbs. 
Daffodil, or Lent Lily, 7-9. 
Butter and Eggs. 
Two-flowered Narcissus. 
Snowdrop, 2. 

The Yam Tribe— 

Green flowers, scarlet berries, twining stems, tuberous roots. 
Black Bryony, 239. 
Herb Paris, 239. 

The Lily Tribe — 

Six stamens, six petals, one pistil, no calyx. 
Martagon, or Turk's Cap, 247. 

AsparagVjS Orowp^ 252. 

Butcher's Broom, 86. 
Lily of the Valley, 252. 
Solomon's Seal, 252. 

Squill Chroup — 

Vernal Squill. 
Autumnal Squill. 



COMMON ENGLISH PLANTS 299 

Blue-bell, Blue Bottle, or Wild Hyacinth, 249. 

Star of Bethlehem, 249. 

Crow Garlic, 249. 

Fritillary, or Snake's head, 248. 

Meadow SafiEron. 

The Rush Tbibe — 

Leafless — clusters of six stamens. 
Common Rush (several species). 
"Wood Rush (several species). 
Asphodel, 251. 

Flowering Rush Tribe, 239. 

"Water Plantain Tribe, 240. 

Reed-mace Tribe — 

Cat's-tail, or reed-mace, or bulrush, 243. 
Bur Reed, 244. 

Arum Tribe, 245. 

Sweet Sedge Tribe. 

Duckweed Tribe, 245. 

Pond- WEED Tribe. 

Reed Tribe — 

Stamenate and pistilate flowers in different spikes ; tall round 
steins, like grasses. 

Sedge or Reed, 253. 

Bulrush Proper (beautiful feathered brown heads of 

blossom), 254. 
Spike Rush. 
Cotton Grass. 
Sedge (many sorts). 

The Grass Tribe. (These would take too minute study for 
young botanists. ) 



BOTANICAL TERMS EMPLOYED 



Pistil, or Carpel — ^the central point of the flower which becomes 

the seed-vegseL 
Stigma — ^the top of the pistiL 
Style — the column of the pistiL 
Germ — ^the bottom of the pistil, containing the seed. 
Stamens — ^the cases of pollen, supported, on stalks. 
Anther — ^the case containing pollen. 

Pollen — ^the dust of the anthers which makes the germ fertile. 
Filament — ^the thread-like stems that support the anthers. 
Corolla — the whole case in which the stamens and pistil are 

contained, usually the coloured part of the flower. 
Petal — a single leaf of the corolla. 
Nectary — the honey-cup in the corolla. 
Calyx — the green cup enclosing the corolla. 
Sepal — a single leaf of the calyx. 
Spathe — a sheath like that of a daffodiL 
Receptacle — ^the bottom of the calyx, or top of the stem on 

which the flower grows. 
Superior corolla — a corolla growing above the germ. 
Inferior corolla — growing below the germ. 
Capsule — little purse, the case where the seed is contained. 
Bract — a leaf growing at the foot of the flower-stalk. 
Cotyledon — a seed-leaf, which springs up first, then faUs off*. 
Alternate leaves — ^those growing by turns on opposite sides of 

the stem. 
Serrate leaves — ^those notched like a saw. 
Linear — long narrow ones. 
Pinnate — ^winged, such as vine leaves. 



BOTANICAL TERMS EMPLOYED 301 

Cyme — a head of blossom like elder. 

Umbel — a head like hemlock. 

Frond — a fern, or sea-weed leaf. 

Imbricated — scales growing one over the other, as in a fir cone. 

Fibrous root — one in little branches. 

Bulb — an underground bulb, such as an onion. 

Tuber — a fleshy swelling on the root like a potato. 

All these parts of plants are really only leaves in different forms. 



r 

r 



I I 

V 



'5 



INDEX 



Addkr's-tonoue, 74 
Adoxa or Moschatel, 287 
African liibiscns, 114 
Agaricns, 267 
Agrimony, 289 
Alder, 296 
Alexanders, 287 
Alkanet, 193 
Almond, 135 
Aloe, 249 
Althea, 114 
Amaranth, 55, 208 
American cowslip, 196 
American groundsel, 54 
American raspberry, 35 
Anagallis, 182 
Ancbnsa, 193 
Anemone, 14 
Angelica, 155 
Apple, 28 
Apricot, 31 
Arancaria, 89 
Archangel, 164, 166 
Arrow-head, 240 
Artichoke, 49 
Aram, 244 
Ash, 136 

Asparagus, 240, 252 
Aspen, 226 
Asphodel, 251 
Aster, 53 
Atropa, 194 



Aorieula, 23 
Austrian brier, 33 
Azalia, 180 

Baohelobs' Buttons, 18 

Balsam, 128 

Bamboo, 260 

Banksia rose, 33 

Barberry, 97 

Barley, 258 

Barren strawberry, 285 

Bartsia, 293 

Basil, 164 

Basil-thyme, 164 

Bay, 171 

Bean, 40 

Bedstraw, 174 

Bee orchis, 233 

Beech, 203 

Beet, 209 

Begonia, 151 

Bell flowers, 46 

Betony, 293 

Bindweed, 189 

Burch, 133, 222 

Birds' -eye primula, 22 

Birds'-foot trefoil, 42 

Birds'-nest orchis, 231, 297 

Bistort, 295 

Blackberry, 35 

Black bryony, 239 

Black-eyed Susan, 114 



304 



INDEX 



Black maiden-hair, 70 
Black thorn, 32 
Bladder-campion, 102 
Bladder catchfly, 282 
Bladder-wort, 168 
Blechnum, 73 
Bloody warrior, 106 
Bine-bells, 249 
Blue-bells of Scotland, 46 
Blue bugle, 166 
Bog-bean, 189 
Bog pimpernel, 182 
Boletus, 268 
Borage, 192 
Bottle-gourd, 149 
Box, 202 
Bracken, 72 
Bramble, 35, 55 
Bread-fruit, 242 
Broccoli, 107 
Brome grass, 259 
Brook lime, 167 
Broom, 41 
Broom rape, 165 
Bryony, 239 
Bryum, 66 

Buckshom plantain, 170 
Buckthorn, 283 
Buckwheat, 207 
Budlea, 191 
Bugle, 166 
Bullace, 284 
Bukush, 243 
Burdock, 57 
Bur marigold, 289 
Burnet, 135 
Bur reed, 244 
Butcher's broom, 86 
Butter-and-eggs, 8 
Buttercup, 17 
Butterfly orchis, 230 
Butterwort, 168 

Cabbage, 106 
Cabbage rose, 34 
Cactus, 152 
Caflfa, 174 



Calico flowers, 180 
Camellia, 112 
Camomile, 54 
Campanula, 45 
Camphor, 171 
Canary-bird flower, 129 
Candytuft, 109 
Cane, 260 

Canterbury bells, 46 
Caraway, 155 
Cardamine, 109 
Carigeen, 275 
Carnation, 101 
Carrot, 155 
Catchfly, 102 
Catmint, 293 
Cat's-tail, 244 
Cauliflower, 107 
Cedar, 89, 92 
Celandine, 18 
Celery, 155 
Centaury, 188 
Cerealia, 259 
Cereus, 153 

Chandelier hemlock, 156 
Chanterelle, 267 
Charlock, 274 
Cherry, 31 
Chestnut, 130, 202 
Chickweed, 102 
China aster, 53 
China rose, 83, 34 
Chinese honeysuckle, 159 
Chinese primrose, 24 
Chocolate, 117 
Chrysanthemum, 53 
Cinnamon, 171 
Cinquefoil, 285 
Cistus, 100 
Citron, 118, 122 
Clarkias, 146 
Clary, 164 
Cleavers, 173 
Cliders, 173 
Clove pink, 101 
Clover, 43 
Club moss, 66 



INDEX 



305 



Cockscomb, 208 
Cocoa-nut, 241 
Codlings and cream, 143 
Coffee, 174 
Colewort, 106 
Comfrey, 24, 193 
Conferva, 276 
Convolvulus, 189, 190 
Corallines, 276 
Com, 255 

Com-cockle, 102, 103 
Com crysanthemum, 53 
Comel, 157 
Com-flag, 238 
Com-flower, 58 
Com salad, 172 
Cotton, 114 
Cotton grass, 259 
Cow-parsley, 156 
Cowslip, 21 
Cow tree, 242 
Cow-wheat, 165 
Crab, 28 

Cranberry, 134, 181 
Crane's-bm, 124 
Creeping Jenny, 181 
Crimson vetchling, 42 
Crocus, 4 
Crosswort, 172 
Crowfoot, 17 
Crown imperial, 248 
Cuckoo-flower, 102, 109 
Cucumber, 148 
Cudweed, 55 
Cup lichen, 64 
Cyclamen, 181 
Cypress, 94 

Daffodil, 7 
Dahlia, 54 
Daisy, 49, 52 
Damask rose, 34 
Dandelion, 49, 57 
Date palm, 240 
Datura, 194 
Dead men's hands, 228 
Dead-nettle, 164, 166 



Deadly nightshade, 194 
Dew berry, 35 
Dielytra spectabilis, 101 
Dock, 208 
Dodder, 191 
Dog's mercury, 202 
Dog-rose, 33 
Dog-violet, 25 
Dog- wood, 157 
Dove's-foot crane's-bill, 124 
Dove orchis, 234 
Dry rot, 269 
Duckweed, 245 
Dutch rushes, 263 
Dwale, 194 
Dwarf furze, 42 
Dwarf mallow, 114 
Dyer's green weed, 288 
Dyer's rocket, 110 

Eagle fern, 73 
Earth nut, 156 
Edelweiss, 55 
Egg plant, 200 
Eglantine, 33 
Egyptian wheat, 258 
Elder, 160 
Elm, 133, 215 
Enchanter's nightshade, 145 
Epacris, 48 
EsperanceSf 18 
Esjpiritu santo, 234 
Euphorbia, 202 
Everlasting, 55 
Everlasting pea, 284 
Eyebright, 165 

Fair-Maids-op-Februabt, 4 

Fair-Maids-of-France, 18 

Fairy bath, 269 

Fan-palm, 241 

Fat hen, 209 

Fennel, 155 

Fem, 68 

Field madder, 173 

Fig, 213 



306 



INDEX 



Figwort, 165 
Fir, 89 
Flag, 236 
Flax, 126 
Flea-bane, 54 
Flenr-de-lys, 235 
Flowering fern, 69 
Fly agaric, 267 
Fly ophrys, 233 
Forget-me-not, 24 
Foxglove, 162 
French bean, 40 
French honeysuckle, 159 
French willow herb, 143 
Fringed lily, 189 
Fritillary, 248 
Frog-bit, 227 
Fnchsia, 144 
Fumitory, 100 
Fungus, 266 • 
Furze, 41 

Gablio, 249 
Gentian, 188 
Geranium, 125 
Crerman aster, 53 
Germander, 166 
Germander speedwell, 167 
Geum, 270 
Gipsey wort, 164 
Gladiolus, 238 
Goat's-beard, 288 
Grolden apples, 118 
Grolden rod, 54 
Goldylocks, 279 
Good King Henry, 209 
Gooseberry, 137 
Goosefoot, 209 
Goose grass, 173 
Gorse, 41 
Gourd, 148 
Groutweed, 156 
Grapes, 140 

Grass of Parnassus, 138 
Grasses, 255 
Gray mint, 166 
Ground ivy, 164 



Groundsel, 54 
Guelder rose, 161 
Gulf weed, 274 
Gum cistus, 100, 191 

Habd-febn, 73 
Harebell, 46 
Hare's-foot trefoil, 43 
Hart's-tongue, 68 
Hawkweed, 289 
Hawthorn, 32 
Hazel, 9 
Heart's-ease, 26 
Heath, 47 
Heath pea, 42 
Hedge mustard, 109 
Helleborine, 233 
Hemlock, 156 
Hemp, 213 
Hemp agrimony, 289 
Henbane, 194 
Hepatica, 15 
Herb Bennet, 284 
Herb Robert, 124 
Hibiscus, 114 
Hoary plantain, 170 
Hogweed, 156 
Holly, 78, 80, 130 
Holyoak, 113 
Honesty, 109 
Honeysuckle, 158 
Hop, 213 
Hornbeam, 296 
Homed poppy, 99 
Horse-chestnut, 130 
Horse-tail, 140, 263 
Hound's-tongue, 193 
House leek, 286 
Hyacinth, 249, 251 
Hypnum, 65 

Impatibns, 128 
Indian com, 261 
Indian cress, 129 
Indian pink, 102 
Ipomea, 191 
Iris, 435 



INDEX 



307 



Irish cabbage, 138 
Ivy, 83 

Jaok-bt-the-hedgb, 109 
Jack-in-a-box, 23 
Jacob's ladder, 202 
Japan anemone, 17 
Jemsaleni artichoke, 50 
Jessamine, 182 
Jonquil, 8 
Jumping Betty, 128 
Juniper, 205 

Kail, 106 
Kalmia, 180 
King cup, 17, 18 
Knap -weed, 58 
Knee-holm, 86 
Knock-head, 169 
Knot grass, 295 
Knotted fncus, 272 
Kohl-rabbi, 107 

Laburnum, 41 
Lady fern, 71 
Lady's-bed-straw, 173 
Lady's fingers, 42 
Lady's mantle, 136 
Lady's needlework, 138 
Lady's smock, 109 
Lady's tresses, 232 
Lamb's lettuce, 172 
Lapsana, 289 
Larch, 93 
Laurel, 31 
Laurustinus, 161 
Lavender, 164 
Laver, 274 
Lemon, 122 
Lent lily, 7 
Lettuce, 289 
Lichen, 63, 67 
Lilac, 109, 183 
LiUes, 246 

Lily, of the valley, 252 
Lime tree, 117 
Linden, 117 



Ling, 47 

Linum usitatissimum, 127 
Lion's tail, 271 
Little sword, 238 
Liverwort, 63 
London Pride, 138 
Loose-strife, 136, 141 
Lords and ladies, 244 
Love in idleness, 27 
Love-lies-bleeding, 208 
Lotus, 42, 98 
Lucerne, 43 

Luckie Minnie's lines, 273 
Lung-reed, 243 
Lungwort, 64, 193 
Lupin, 42 
Lychnis, 102 

Magnolia, 97 
Maiden-hair, 70 
Maize, 261 
Mallow, 113 
Malope, 114 
Mangel-wurzel, 209 
Man-tway-blade, 231 
Maple, 130 
Mare's-tail, 139 
Marigold, 18 
Marjoram, 164 
Marsh mallow, 114 
Marsh marigold, 18 
Martagon, 248 
Marvel of Peru, 207 
May, 32 
May wings, 101 
Meadow crane's-bill, 125 
Meadow rue, 279 
Meadow saffiron, 299 
Meadow scabious, 177 
Meadow-sweet, 136 
Medick, 283 
Melitis, 272 
Melon, 148 
Melon thistle, 152 
Mermaid's staylace, 273 
Mesembryanthemum, 154 
Michaelmas daisy, 53 



308 



INDEX 



Mignonette, 110 

Mildew, 269 

Milk vetch, 284 

Mnk-wort, 101 

Mimosa, 265 

Mint, 271 

Misletoe, 81 

Mithridate mustard, 273 

Monkey-flower, 163 

Monk's-hood, 187 

Moneywort, 181 

Moon daisies, 53 

Moon wort, 109 

Morel, 265, 268 

Moss, 64 

Moss rose, 34 

Mountain-ash, 136 

Mountain-parsley, 74 

Mouse-ear hawkweed, 289 

Mouse-ear-scorpion grass, 24 

Mulberry, 212 

Mullein, 168 

Mushroom, 265 

Musk, 163 

Musk-mallow, 114 

Mustard, 108 

Myrtle, 140 

Narcissus, 7 
Nasturtium, 129 
Nectarine, 31 
Needle broom, 283 
Nettle, 209 
Nightshade, 194 
Noli-me-tangere, 128 
None-so-pretty, 138 
Noon flower, 154 

Oak, 133, 203 
Oat-grass, 259 
Oats, 259 

Old man's beard, 279 
Olive, 185 
Onion, 249 
Ophrys, 233 
Orange, 118 
Orchis, 228 



Orpine, 286 
Oscillatoria, 277 
Osier, 223 
Osmunda, 69 
Osmunda regalis, 69 
Ox-eye daisy, 63 
Ox-lip, 21 
Ox-tongue, 288 
Oyster green, 275 

Palm, 223, 240 
Pansy, 27 
Papyrus, 253 
Park leaves. 111 
Parsley, 156 
Pasque flower, 14, 15 
Passion flower, 147 
Patience dock, 208 
Pea, 37 
Peach, 31 
Pear, 31 

Pelargonium, 126 
Pellitory, 211 
Pencilled crane's-bill, 125 
Pennywort, 103 
Penstemon, 164 
Pepper, 182 
Periwinkle, 187 
Persicaria, 207 
Pezitza, 269 
Pheasant eye, 100 
Picotee, 101 
Pilewort, 18 
Pimento, 141 
Pimpernel, 182 
Pine, 89, 92 
Pine apple, 227 
Pink, 281 

Pink purse plant, 101 
Pirijao, 241 
Plane, 133 
Plantain, 169 
Polyanthus, 23 
Polypody, 70 
Pomegranate, 141 
Poplar, 226 
Poppy, 99 



INDEX 



309 



Poppy anemone, 16 
Portugal laurel, 31 
Potato, 106, 197 
Potato blight, 269 
Prickly comfrey, 193 
Primrose, 19 
Primula, 21 
Prince's feather, 208 
Privet, 186 
Provence rose, 34 
Prunella, 164 
Puflf-ball, 268 
Pumpkin, 149 
Purple clover, 43 
Purple loose-strife, 136, 1 41 
Purple rocket, 109 
Purple vetch, 42 

Quassia, 129 

Queen of the meadow, 136 

Quinine, 176 

Quiver grass, 259 

Radish, 108 
Ragged robin, 102, 124 
Ragweed, 54 
Ranunculus, 17 
Raspberry, 35 
Ray grass, 259 
Red rattle, 165 
Red robin, 102 
Reed-mace, 244 
Reindeer moss, 64 
Rest harrow, 283 
Rhododendron, 180 
Rhubarb, 208 
Ribgrass, 169 
Ribwort, 169 
Rice, 259 
Robin, 124 
Rock-brake, 74 
Rock rose, 100 
Rocket, 280 

Rocket yellow-weed, 110 
Rose, 32 
Rose bay, 286 
Rose-campion, 102 



Rosemary, 164 
Round-headed rampion, 290 
Rowan, 136 
Rue, 129 
Rush, 239, 253 
Rye, 259 

Saffron oboous, 6 

Sage, 164 

Saint foin, 43 

Saint Gundula's lamp, 269 

Saint John's wort, 111 

Saint Peter's wort, 165 

Saliz, 223, 224 

Salvia, 164 

Samile, 154 

Samphire, 269 

Sandwort, 102 

Sanicle, 157 

Sauce-alone, 109 

Saw-wort, 289 

Saxifrage, 138 

Scabious, 176 

Scarlet-runner, 40 

Scotch fir, 89, 91 

Scotch rose, 33 

Scotland kail, 106 

Sea-aster, 53 

Sea-grapes, 274 

Sea-laces, 273 

Sea-tangle, 272 

Sea-thongs, 274 

Sea-wand, 272 

Sea-weeds, 271 

Sedge, 253 

Self-heal, 164 

Service Iree, 285 

Shaddock, 122 

Sheep's bit, 290 

Shepherd's needle, 155 

Shepherd's purse, 109 

Shepherd's weather-glass, 182 

Shamrock, 43 

Shield-fern, 71 

Siberian fumitory, 101 

Silene, 102 

Silver fir, 89, 91 



310 



INDEX 



Silver weed, 285 

Skewerwood, 82 

Skull-cap, 163 

Smut, 269 

Suake-flower, 248 

Suake-weed, 207 

Suapdragon, 163 

Snow-baJl tree, 161 

Snowberry, 159 

Snowdrop, 2 

Soapwort, 101, 282 

Solanum, 197 

Solomon's seal, 252 

Sorrel-dock, 208 

Sow-thistle, 288 

Spanish chestnut, 202 

Speedwell, 167 

Spider ophrys, 233 

Spiderwort, 264 

Spinach, 209 

Spindle tree, 82 

Spirea, 136 

Spleenwort, 70 

Spurge, 201 

Spurrey, 282 

Squill, 298 

Star of Bethlehem, 249 

Starwort, 102 

Stinking-flag, 236 

Stitchwort, 102 

Stock, 105, 106 

Stonecrop, 103, 138 

Strawberry-headed trefoil, 43 

Sugar-cane, 260 

Sun-dew, 138 

Sun-flower, 51 

Swan's-neck, 69 

Sweet brier, 33 

Sweet gale, 296 

Sweet pea, 37 

Sweet thyme, 164 

Sweet William, 101 

Swine^angle, 272 

Sycamore, 130 

Tansy, 289 

Tare, 42 

Tea, 112 



Teazel, 178 

Thistle, 49, 55 

Thorn apple, 194 

Thrift, 295 

Thyme, 164 

Tiger lUy, 247 

Toad-flax, 163 

Toad's-spawn, 277 

Toadstool, 266 

Tobacco, 194 

Tomato, 200 

Toothwort, 292 

Tormentil, 285 

Touch-me-not, 128 

Traveller's joy, 279 

Treacle mustard, 109 

Tree ferns, 75 

Trefoil, 43 

Trifolium incamatum, 43 

Tripe de roche, 64 

Tropeolum, 129 

Truffle, 248, 265 

TuUp, 248 

Turk's cap, 247 

Turkey-feather sea-weed, 275 

Turnip, 107 

Tussock grass, 260 

Tutsan, 111 

Tway-blade, 231 



Valerian, 172 
Valisneria, 233 
Vegetable marrow, 149 
Venus' comb, 155 
Venus' looking-glass, 46 
Verbena, 168 
Veronica, 167, 168 
Vervain, 169 
Vetch, 42 
Vetchling, 42 
Victoria regia lily, 99 
Viola, 25 
Violet, 24 
Viper's bugloss, 192 



Wall-flower, 105 



INDEX 



311 



Water Avens, 284 
Water-cress, 108 
Water-crowfoot, 17 
Water-dock, 207 
Water drop wort, 287 
Water-lily, 98 
Water-melon, 230 
Water pepper, 296 
Water-planta^, 240 
Water speedwell, 167 
Wayfaring tree, 161 
Weasel-snout, 166 
Weeping willow, 224 
Weymouth pine, 91 
Wheat, 266 
White bottle, 102 
White bryony, 150 
White clover, 43 
White lily, 246 
White robin, 102 
White rock rose, 281 
White rose, 34 
White thorn, 27 
Whortleberry, 134, 181 
Wild rose, 32 
Wild succory, 289 
Wild vine, 150 
Willow, 223 
WUlow-herb, 136, 143 
Wind-flower, 14 



Winter cherry, 200 
Withy, 223 
Woad, 110 
Wood-anemone, 14 
Woodbine, 158 
Woodruff, 172 
Wood rush, 299 
Wood-sage, 166 
Woodsorrel, 127 
Wood vetchling, 284 
Woody nightshade, 196 
Wormwood, 289 
Woundwort, 271 
Wych elm, 221 

Yam, 239 

Yarrow, 290 

Yellow cow- wheat, 166 

Yellow dead-nettle, 166 

Yellow flag, 236 

Yellow fumitory, 101 

Yellow lark's heel, 129 

Yellow loose-strife, 181 

Yellow pimpernel, 182 

Yellow rattle, 166 

Yellow rock rose, 281 

Yellow vetchling, 42 

Yellow-wort, 134 

Yew, 203 

York and Lancaster rose, 84 



THE END 



Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh, 



I 



illllil 

3 tlD5 DDl 7tl. S57 





DATE DUE 







































































































STANFORD UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES 
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